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Truckee students perform 1970 adaptation of ‘Alice in Wonderland’

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

The Tahoe-Truckee High School drama department is tackling what most audiences know as the Disney cartoon classic, “Alice in Wonderland.”

But the students and drama teacher, producer and acting coach Merri McKee and director Gary Costello have adapted the Manhattan Project’s 1970 adaptation of the play to their own wacky and technically psychedelic version, which features approximately 25 student actors and actresses.

Last night was opening night, and the TTHS auditorium stage was transformed into a wonderland of illusion.

“The play was [originally] written to be performed by six actors on a stage with one table -that’s the entire set. It is usually performed in places like dungeons and coffee shops,” said student director and TTHS senior Tom Watts. “Our version is a ’70s show. It does cover some deeper Freudian bases than the cartoon … It’s going to be an extremely technical show. I’m going to make it as technical as possible.”

Effects include strobe lights, fog and dry ice and fluorescent paint on the set to enhance the 1970s psychedelic theme.

“It’s going to be an extremely visible play,” Watts said. “It’s wonderland – things aren’t going to be how they’re supposed to be.”

Watts has been doing technical production at TTHS since his sophomore year, following the technical theater class he took his freshman year. In the past three years, Watts helped produce numerous TTHS plays, events and other stage productions. In this show, he’s not only the student director and technical director, but also represents the spirit of the forest, the crab, the cook and other creatures trolling about on the stage.

TTHS special education teacher Gary Costello, who also directed last year’s fall play, “Spoon River,” revised the script to be for approximately 25 students and has given them the freedom to develop the play to their own style.

“He gave us such an open-ended play and he’s let us develop it,” said junior Ashley Williams, who plays Alice. Alice is also played by junior Saira Catchot. “There’s a lot you can do with the parts. It’s not a set play. We’ve changed it a lot already … We created the characters and the atmosphere which is kind of cool.”

In the high school’s version, Alice is not a shy little girl by any means.

“She has more of an opinion and she’s not afraid to express it,” Williams explained. “She’s outspoken.”

“I played Alice in third grade, so I’m reliving that experience in a slightly different tone,” she said.

The two Alices are played by each girl for two of the four shows.

The students even helped design their own costumes, which will highlight their individuality and creativity. The costumes are being made by Sandy Horn.

The high school production is adapted from the adult version of the play and is not a children’s show. Young children should be accompanied by an adult.

Tahoe Truckee High School and the Student Performing Arts Guild (SPAG) presents The Manhattan Project’s 1970 adaptation of Alice and Wonderland

When: Thursday, Nov. 16 at

7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday,

Nov. 17-18 at 8 p.m.

Where: Tahoe-Truckee High School Auditorium.

Tickets: Cost $8 for adults and $4 for children under 12. Available at Four Seasons, Nik-N-Willies and TTHS.

Information: Call 582-7630.


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