Take a trip through the looking glass
Whatever one may wish to be, dreams and imagination often provide an escape from reality for a moment.
Eventually, however, everyone learns to appreciate whatever one already has.
Stagemakers at the J is presenting “Alice in Wonderland Jr.,” an enchanting musical about a girl named Alice who escapes into a world of her own imagination she believes will be better than where she is currently.
After having several madcap adventures with a variety of colorful characters, Alice eventually discovers the grass is not always greener on the other side.
The musical is based on characters from the Disney film “Alice in Wonderland,” and from the novels “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll.
Lyrics are by David Simpatico. Music was arranged by Brian Louiselle.
Beautiful costumes and captivating young voices bring the audience into Alice’s world.
“This has truly been an inspiring experience,” choreographer Andrew Stewart said. “This is the first time I have been a solo choreographer for a show, and although stressful at times having to create different numbers from scratch, it is extremely rewarding to see the kids enjoy them.”
“Alice in Wonderland, Jr.” is Stewart’s first role as a choreographer.
Returning to Stagemakers for his second time, music director Sebastian Paff enjoyed working with the kids to make some great music happen.
He said there is much talent performing in this show.
“Alice is a girl with a big imagination,” said Zoe Lachter of Allentown, a seventh grader at the Jewish Day School, Allentown, who plays Alice.
Lachter is not a stranger to Stagemakers. This is her sixth performance with the group.
“I like Alice because she is different from other Disney related characters,” she explained. “Most of them usually fall in love but Alice goes on a journey of self-discovery.”
Amelia Dawson of Fogelsville plays Small Alice. A fifth grader at Kernsville Elementary School, she is returning to Stagemakers for her second time.
“My character is a part of Alice,” Dawson said. “She arrives on stage when one of the Alice characters eats or drinks a special cookie or liquid. I love playing her.”
“It can be challenging at times to be only one-third of a character,” Dawson said. “I really have to work hard to interact with the other Alice characters.
“Tall Alice is confused about Wonderland and does not really know what is going on,” Victoria Toto of Lower Macungie said.
A sixth grader at Lower Macungie Middle School, she is performing with Stagemakers for her ninth time.
“I really love acting, singing, and dancing,” Toto said. “I have continued to be part of Stagemakers because I meet so many nice people and have made a lot of friends.”
“The White Rabbit is a fast paced, comical and anxious character who cannot make sense of time,” Elijah Albert-Stein of Allentown said. “I love playing this role.”
An eighth grader at Trexler Middle School, this is his sixth show with Stagemakers.
“I love the thrill of being on stage,” Albert-Stein said. “I have made so many friends through Stagemakers, and I am very excited working with this show’s cast.
“Memorizing everything for this show is challenging, but our cast works well together and helps each other out.”
“The Queen of Hearts is bossy, and has to get everything her way, or else,” Jillian Petrie of Alburtis said.
An eighth grader at Lower Macungie Middle School, she has been in several other Stagemaker performances.
“I am not a bossy person, so I like the fact I am playing a character different from me,” Petrie said. “It is hard to be mean on stage, especially to those who do not deserve it. The Queen of Hearts is the only person in Wonderland that everyone listens to.”
Performing for her first time with Stagemakers, Northern Lehigh Middle School seventh grader Reagan Schaeffer of Emerald said she gets nervous when performing her solos,
”But, meeting my fellow cast members and making friends with them totally makes it worth it,” Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer plays the Mad Hatter.
“He is a colorful outgoing character that likes to throw tea parties,” Schaeffer said. “He is fun to play and very different from me personally.”
Jackson Kaiser of Schnecksville is also performing for his first time with Stagemakers.
A fifth grader at Schnecksville Elementary School, he plays the Caterpillar.
“The Caterpillar is an extremely confident character, and always in a jolly mood,” Kaiser said. “He is unique because most of the other characters in Wonderland are rude to Alice, using her often confused state of mind to their advantage.
“Instead, I get to help Alice and try to cheer her up.
“I am nervous and excited. It was challenging at first singing in front of everyone, but my confidence has significantly improved.
“And, as the Caterpillar I am able to make a fool of myself, he allows me to look and act silly.”
Emily Buck of South Whitehall, Maci Politt of Whitehall, and Brianna Hoysan of Schnecksville play the Cheshire Cats.
Buck is in eighth grade at Springhouse Middle School working for her seventh time with Stagemakers.
“I get to see and work with my friends each time I am in a Stagemakers show,” Buck said. “I have never been a narrator before, so it is different telling Alice’s story on stage.
“I have to memorize lines for a character that never actually as a conversation. But it is fun to try something new.”
Politt, an eighth grader in the Whitehall Coplay School District, is performing for her ninth time with Stagemakers.
“My character is mysterious and loves throwing Alice off her path in Wonderland,” Politt said. “She cares more about herself than she does the other Cheshire Cats.
“This is my first show working with a large number of little kids, which is good because they are eager to learn.
“Sometimes it is difficult getting them to pay attention, but after they settle down they look good together on stage.”
Hoysan is in 10th grade at Parkland High School. This is her second show with Stagemakers.
“My character is a magical being who helps Alice throughout the show, but also has fun with her by giving her wrong directions,” Hoysan said. “Compared to other shows I have been in, with the role of the Cheshire Cat I have to make sure I am in sync with the other two cats.”
Director SJ Pierce chose “Alice in Wonderland Jr.” as it is one of her favorite pieces of literature.
“I have been involved with six Stagemaker shows, and this is my second one directing,” Pierce said. “Each show has brought me so many great experiences and connected me to so many amazing people.
“Every production brings its own set of challenges and successes. But through it all, the cast and crew come together to present a wonderful piece of art.”
“Alice in Wonderland, Jr.” will be performed at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 and 24, and 2 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley, 702 N. 22nd St., Allentown.
Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by calling 610-435-3571.