More than 100 young performers from across western Manitoba are ready to take audiences on a trip “down the rabbit hole” at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium today and Friday when Mecca Productions presents “Alice in Wonderland Junior.”
Rehearsals began in March and director Lisa Vasconcelos says the kids are ready to put on a great show.
“This is the first time we’ve staged an ‘all kids musical’ and we have loved the experience,” she said. “The kids have been an absolute joy to work with and we have had a lot of fun together.”
The creative team behind Mecca’s community musicals has brought its time and talents to this project. Stage manager Susan Brechmann has found working with the many parents very rewarding.
“Whenever there was a job to do, be it painting or supervising or helping out in any way, we had lots of volunteers to help. It’s made a big difference in how much we’ve been able to accomplish.”
The show is visually spectacular. Local actor and artist Marilyn Hardy — the creator of the dragon that appeared in November’s hit production “Shrek” — has applied her talent to bring the Cheshire Cat to life.
“It’s a three-actor puppet that is quite spectacular,” Vasconcelos said. “Marilyn wanted the kids in the audience to be captivated by the cat and I think they will be.”
For many of these young performers, this is their first foray into the world of musical theatre.
“They are so excited!” Vasconcelos said. “Our youngest performers are in preschool so the big stage at the WMCA is really a great opportunity for them.”
Many students from Mecca’s after-school classes are front and centre in lead roles. With so many kids auditioning, Vasconcelos made the decision to double-cast all the lead and supporting roles.
Jessica Granger appears as a Cheshire Cat puppeteer and a Wonderland character as well.
“I really like the character of the Cheshire Cat,” she said. “It’s cool how it’s three different people and the puppet is really cool!”
While the action on stage is great, Granger has enjoyed the behind the scenes fun as well.
“Getting to know more people has been a lot of fun. It’s awesome to be at the auditorium with my friends and I loved watching the little kids. They are so cute.”
Front and centre as the Caterpillar is Avery Praznik who has loved the experience of being a tap-dancing caterpillar. “I love getting to sing and tap dance at the same time. It’s awesome!”
With a running time of just over an hour, “Alice in Wonderland Junior” is the perfect family show.
“There are still lots of tickets left,” Vasconcelos said. “We’ve been so happy with the response and support the community has shown. We’re already planning next year’s kids’ shows.”
Show times are 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today and 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Tickets are on sale now at the WMCA box office (204-728-9510) or online at wmca.ca.
For more information about “Alice in Wonderland Junior” or upcoming productions, visit mecca-productions.com.