A Wonder To Behold

Skyline Middle Stages First-Ever Musical Production

Posted: November 15, 2012

Alice (front, left), played by Noelle Warne, and White Rabbit (front, right), played by Maddie Blackwell, converse during Scene 2 of “Alice In Wonderland Jr.” at dress rehearsal Wednesday at Skyline Middle School. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
The opening scene of Alice In Wonderland Jr. during dress rehearsal Nov. 14 at Skyline Middle School. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
This Friday, Skyline Middle School will debut Alice in Wonderland Jr., the drama program’s first “big” musical production, made possible by enthusiastic support from students and parents.
The musical version of the story is nearly the same as Lewis Carroll’s classic, just slightly simplified and accompanied by songs that are adapted to the vocal ranges of middle school-age children.
“One of the really cool things about putting on a play is you get to see students in a totally different light, and they’re amazing,” drama teacher Kathleen Holter said. “We have so much talent here.”
Holter has directed shows for nearly 15 years and said the production has seen the most parental involvement ever. Some parents have helped organize volunteers, make costumes and plan concessions, which will be sold before and after the show and during intermission. About 20 to 25 parents volunteered to help students build and paint an elaborate set that “will transport you to Wonderland,” Holter said.
She credits support from community members and fellow teachers for sharing costumes and lighting and sound equipment.
“The community spirit for theater in Harrisonburg is exemplary,” Holter said, thanking Stanley Swartz, director of Harrisonburg High School theater’s Stage Streaks and Michael Strawderman of Thomas Harrison Middle School Theatre.
Fun On Stage
Student Noelle Warren, a veteran performer since fifth grade, plays the role of Alice. Coming from a theater-oriented family, Warren has performed in “Boys Anonymous,” “No Body to Murder” and “The Time They Missed the Forest for the Trees.”
Alice in Wonderland Jr. will be the 17th show for student Eleanor Alger, who plays the Queen of Hearts. The daughter of new JMU President Jonathan Alger, her past show credits include roles as a dancer in “Footloose,” a royal child in “The King and I” and as Cinderella in “Disney’s Cinderella Kids.”
Offstage, the two are best friends — and their favorite scenes are those they share.
“We play off each other well and we have good chemistry,” Warren said. Having fun is what gets the cast and crew of almost 50 students through roughly 20 hours of technical rehearsing the week before opening night.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everything come together, everything we and the volunteers and Mrs. Holter have put in,” Alger said. “It’s really going to be magical.”
The performances will be held in the Skyline Middle School auditorium at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 and Nov. 16, followed by a matinee at 3 p.m. Nov. 17. The show will last an hour and a half and include an intermission. General admission tickets will be sold at the door for $5.

Contact Jordan Pye at skyline@dnronline.com.

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