Zimmerman’s “Alice in Wonderland” on stage this weekend

Maranda Berndt as Queen of Hearts barks at (from left) Sophie Bishop, Aiden Estridge, Alexa Mulyeart, Marissa Luing, Berndt and Amber Nagengast. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Maranda Berndt as Queen of Hearts barks out an order at (from left) Sophie Bishop, Aiden Estridge, Alexa Mulyeart, Marissa Luing, Berndt and Amber Nagengast. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

 

by Bruce Strand, Arts Editor

“Alice in Wonderland” gives Zimmerman High School actors a chance to act a little crazy and dress up in funny costumes, and can’t we all use a little merriment after this dreary April. The public can join in that experience Friday through Sunday.

“We get to be completely insane and bring our own little kinks to the characters,” said senior Maranda Berndt, who’s been delivering laugh lines with aplomb for four years at ZHS. “And these are the most colorful costumes we’ve had for a while.”

Carly Nelson and Ryan Olson as Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum give Alice (Marissa Luing) a whirl. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Carly Nelson and Ryan Olson as Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum give Alice (Marissa Luing) a whirl. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

 

Director Jon Palshewski said that after doing some serious topics, this is a nice change of pace.

“All the characters are cartoons in Wonderland, and everybody is pretty much crazy, so the actors can do unusual things. We have a lot of seniors and this good way for them to finish here.”

Chet Peterson as the Cheshire Cat.

Chet Peterson as the Cheshire Cat.

He adds: “It should be a fun show for kids and all ages to watch.”

They hope to add to the fun by seating some of the spectators at round tables close to the stage and eliminating side-view seats where high railings block sight lines.

The costumes are a hoot. “This is probably going to be our best costume show ever,” said Palshewski, adding that assistant director Amy Cunn-ingham supervised and enlisting her mom, Diane Wilson, a seamstress.

Alice is played by sophomore Marissa Luing, whose mischievous and precocious side impressed directors at the auditions.

“We want Alice to be curious and bold,” Palshewski said.

Cheshire Cat  is played by senior Chet Peterson, who, the director says, has great rapport with the audience, in part because he has the beguiling smile his part needs, a smile that’s “a little crazy, but not creepy.”

The sleepy Dormouse (xxxx) and giggly March Hare (Sophie Bishop) enjoy tea. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

The sleepy Dormouse (Aiden Estridge and giggly March Hare (Sophie Bishop) enjoy tea. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

 

Berndt plays Queen of Hearts, who bosses everyone around, including her wimpy hubby, the king.

“She is a very crabby lady,” Berdnt said “Everything has to go her way all the time — otherwise, she executes them!”

The Mad Hatter (xxxx) testifies at Alice's trial. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

The Mad Hatter (Alexa Mulyaert) testifies at Alice’s trial. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Queen of Hearts is seething that someone ate her cherry tart and blames Alice, even though everyone knows another character was the perpetrator.

Amber Nagengast, a senior who has helped previous ZHS productions as a dancer and choreographer, plays the king, a male but not very macho role as he (she) is scared of his bombastic wife. Nagengast’s body-control skills are evident as she makes the king over-dramatize actions to humorous effect.

There’s also Samantha Jorgenson as White Rabbit, Alexa Muylaert as Mad Hatter; Sophie Bishop as March Hare; Brenna Lesnar as Humpty Dumpty; Vince Snyder as Mock Turtle; Ryan Olson and Carly Nelson as Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee; Aiden Estridge as Dormouse; Kelsey Luby as Gryphon; Austin Michael as Caterpillar; and Laenea Halter as Dutchess.

Poor Alice. Would you like to go on trial with this jury? (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Poor Alice. Would you like to go on trial with this jury? (Photo by Bruce Strand)

 

Bishop, plumed with a huge orange bow tie, said she plays “a crazy rabbit at a tea party with Mad Hatter and Doormouse and Alice. He REALLY likes tea.” Bishiop has a cute high-pitched giggle that spices up her scenes.

Lesnar, decked out in eggshell-white makeup, plays a grouchy and haughty Humpty Dumpty who can’t even be nice to adorable potted flowers played by fifth-graders in a scene with Alice. Lesnar describes the spring play is “chaotic, but a lot of fun, definitely more for all ages than some we’ve done.”

Characters dressed as a playing cards are presented during the closing. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Characters dressed as a playing cards are presented during the closing. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Another tantrum by the Queen of Hearts. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Another tantrum by the Queen of Hearts. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

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