Imagine interweaving the classic absurdist-fiction stories, Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, into an entirely original play.
A group of 11 Barrington High School students used more than their imaginations. They used their writing talents as well.
An original full-length stage play written by them and their teacher debuts tonight, March 31, in the high school auditorium and continues Friday evening and Saturday afternoon and evening.
"Down the Rabbit Hole and Over the Rainbow" puts Alice in Oz and Dorothy in Wonderland. The play will be performed by a Stagemasters' cast of 35, including some of the writers.
“They’ll get to hear the laughter for the words they wrote,” said teacher and drama director Stephanie Spaziano. "That never gets old."
The 11 students penned the show over about five weeks in a play-writing class led by Spaziano. It was an optional assignment that the students grabbed hold of to create the performance from the original Lewis Carroll and L. Frank Baum stories.
“I said I wanted a fairy tale,” Spaziano said. She got fiction of the absurd.
The play is the first full-length show written by students in Spaziano’s class. Only shorter plays were produced before this one.
“They’ve never done this before,” she said, "although there is a long history of combining the two stories.”
The students read the books and researched the stories, she said.
“It’s based on the books, not the movies,” Spaziano said. “Act 1 is in Wonderland. Act 2 is in Oz.”
Several characters from the stories that followed the originals also have been injected into the students’ play. So there might be characters you won’t recognize if you only read Baum's and Carroll's originals.
The student playwrights and actors include Nick Holmes (Mad Hatter), Michael Caizzi (Cowardly Lion), Karl Aspelund (Tin Man), Elena Heitke (White Rabbit), Hugh Tucker (Scarecrow), Olivia Warner, Kelly Whyte, Danielle Friedman, Ana Proulx, Allegra Reich and Jordan Angelo (Flying Monkey). Angelo also is the assistant director.
The lead characters, of course, are Dorothy, played by Lindsey Bissette and Emily Meredith, her understudy, and Alice, played by Molly Millard and Rachel Parola, her understudy. Emily and Rachel will play the leads in one performance.
Expect to see a set comprised of trees and stumps, which fit both Wonderland and Oz, said Spaziano. The sets are the creation of David Bohrer, Elsa Cousins and Jenna DesLaurie. They were applying some last-minute paint Wednesday afternoon.
“A few bugs” also were being worked out of the performance on Wednesday, said Spaziano, a University of Southern California graduate who got into teaching through working in children’s theater and with students at summer theater camps.
Curtain times for the show are tonight and Friday at 7 pm and Saturday at 1 pm and 7 pm. Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for general admission.