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Bizarre, magical—'Alice in Wonderland' at BHS

From left, Talon Rudel, Donte Batiste, Cameron Tahaney, Haley Mitchell, Kara Lawson, Veronica Russell and Amanda LaBaere, BHS students starring in "Alice in Wonderland." Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
November 07, 2012 - Brandon Twp.- Fun.

That's what Jeff Malicke and Brandon High School student actors were looking for when choosing the fall play and that is what they have found with the selection of "Alice in Wonderland."

BHS will present from Nov. 15-17 the famed tale of a little girl transported into a fantasy world, pursued by the Queen of Hearts while meeting a variety of bizarre and magical characters in her attempt to find her way home.

Malicke, BHS teacher and play director, explains that after last year's "The Crucible," he and his students wanted lighter material. This will also be the premiere of "Alice in Wonderland" on the BHS stage.

"We wanted something fun or funny and it's appealing that 'Alice in Wonderland' has never been done here," said Malicke.

There are numerous stage adaptations of Lewis Carroll's book, and the BHS students are using Brainerd Duffield's version, which Malicke said is a cross between the original book and its sequel, "Through the Looking Glass." The adaptation provides more characters, and thus, more roles for the students. Malicke has cast 28 students in the play, which contains some songs, although none that are accompanied by music.

"They are done in character voices so we don't have to worry about whether they are in tune," said Malicke, smiling.

Kara Lawson, a senior, plays the lead role in the play, her third at BHS.

"I'm very excited and I've studied," laughs Lawson, who has roughly 300 lines as Alice, far more than any other character.

"I hope to have it all memorized. It's fun to play a little girl. (The play) is so crazy and whacky and doesn't have to make sense. I feel like people will interpret each character differently."

BHS Junior Veronica Russell won the role of the Queen of Hearts.

"I get to scream, it's so much fun," she said. "In most scenes, I am upset. It's really exhausting to portray that emotion all the time."

BHS Senior Donte Batiste plays the Mad Hatter, a "perky, overly goofy" character that is much different than the more serious roles he has played in previous productions.

"The Mad Hatter is the most energetic character ever," said Batiste, who has seen several adaptations of "Alice in Wonderland" and recently began reading the book. "Audiences will love the humor in this play and the awkward moments. I think audiences like watching actors have fun and they will see us having fun. The Mad Tea Party is the best scene— it's hilarious and has a mysterious, dark undertone you don't catch until it's over."

The play, from the elaborate costumes to the characters to the multiple sets, is fun from beginning to end and will appeal to all age groups, said Malicke.

"Alice in Wonderland" is performed at 7 p.m., Nov. 15-17, on the BHS Performing Arts Center stage, 1025 S. Ortonville Road. Admission is $5 at the door. There is no reserve seating or pre-purchase. For more information, call 248-627-1870.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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