Beginning with 'Alice'

MC drama is first for college as year marks end of Wilson Chapel Theatre

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The Maryville College Theatre Department will present the college’s first-ever onstage production of "Alice in Wonderland" Oct. 26-29.

The play opens at 8 p.m., Oct. 26, in the Wilson Chapel/Theatre Complex, with other evening performances scheduled for Oct. 27-28. Matinee performances begin at 2 p.m., Oct. 28-29.

Lewis Carroll’s 1869 book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, has been a classic children’s story for more than 100 years, earning even more recognition when Disney released its motion picture in 1951.

In Carroll’s story, Alice falls down a rabbit hole into the unusual world of Wonderland. As she tries to make her way home, Alice’s adventures include shrinking and growing at an alarming rate, playing croquet with a flamingo and having tea with a Mad Hatter and a sleepy Dormouse.

According to Dr. Heather McMahon, assistant professor of theatre and director of the MC production, "Alice in Wonderland" playwrights Eva Le Gallienne and Florida Friebus adapted Carroll’s story with added elements.

"There are so many different versions of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ out there," said McMahon. "We are trying to tie in elements from both the movie and Carroll’s book, and hopefully the audience will recognize the majority of the characters."

Since the story is loved by children of all ages, the theater department decided to add more performances. This year, the cast will be hosting special play times during the day for local elementary school children. Those performances will be on a "heavily-discounted" reservation-basis only for Blount-area elementary schools.

"Our purpose in inviting the elementary schools is to demonstrate that we provide family-friendly entertainment for the community," McMahon said. "We want to extend a ‘thank you’ to the public for supporting the theatre department over the years and for supporting plans for the upcoming Civic Arts Center, where we hope to show many more productions like this one."

"Alice in Wonderland" is the last of four plays to be staged in the Wilson Chapel/Theater Complex, as the building will be razed next summer to make way for the new Civic Arts Center. The new facility has a target completion date of 2009.

Recognizing the significance of this year’s season, the theatre department decided to send out special invitations to alumni (particularly theatre alumni), asking them to get involved again as cast and crew members. Several responded, McMahon said.

Two MC alums are members of the play’s cast. Aja Rodriguez, a member of the Class of 2004, performs the role of the March Hare, and Sam Waycaster, a veteran of the MC stage from the early 1990s, plays the Mad Hatter. Other alumni have donated costumes and set pieces; a few graduates are helping build the set.

The entire cast is made up of 35 faculty and students. Playing the role of Alice is Andi Morrow, a sophomore theatre major from Huntsville, Tenn. Faculty member Caroline Addinall is performing the role of the Queen of Hearts. Debbie Daniels, an MC residence life coordinator, plays the White Rabbit. Kristi Moody, a first-year student from Lorton, Va., plays the Caterpillar. Ashley Wise of Greenback, an English literature and theatre double-major, plays the Dormouse.

Morrow, in her first big role at the College, encourages people of all ages to attend. "It’s probably not what people think," she said. "It’s a really animated show with physical comedy and humor."

Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors (60 years old and older), MC faculty and staff, theatre alumni, area students under 18 years of age and are college students with identification. MC students are admitted free. Doors open half an hour before the show starts.

For more information, contact the Maryville College Theatre Department at 865-981-8161.

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