Drawing on talents of not only Ross students but also the local community, Ross Lower School’s Field House was transformed last weekend for the Ross Children’s Community Theater presentation of Wonderland. The performance, based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, was written by Lower School Performing Arts teacher Margaret Kestler, with musical assistance from Loreen Enright.
The play begins with a young Alice awakening from a nightmare. To soothe her, her nursemaid sings lullabies that evoke happy places and “nonsense.” As the audience traveled through Wonderland, the acting, musical performances, and set design helped establish the magic of the performance. The songs were a creative mix of whimsical and modern tunes, including Sting’s “Desert Rose” and “Muchness,” an original song composed by Margaret and Loreen.
As the play progresses, a coming-of-age Alice feels stifled by the restrictions of proper Victorian English attitudes, a controlling aunt, a caring but nervous sister, and a good-for-nothing brother-in-law. Alice escapes to Wonderland to relive the adventures of her childhood, meeting characters such as the infamous Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, and, of course, the Mad Hatter. Along the way, she is challenged to both examine the past and to grasp the inevitability and wonder of change.
The cast performed beautifully in this magical exploration. Many Ross students, parents, and members of the community also contributed to the production, including Ann and Bill Stewart, who designed and built the elaborate sets; Laura Eisman as costume mistress; Adam Judd on sound; Chris Engel, director of Community Programs; Tor Burwell on lights; Karl Kasik as videographer; and Tucker Costello as backstage manager.