Feb. 2, 2011: Last Saturday and Sunday, January 29 and 30, audiences in the Bronxville High School auditorium grew "curiouser and curiouser" as they awaited the curtain for the musical Alice in Wonderland.
One hundred sixty students in grades three, four, and five participated in the production that came together in less than two weeks ... but this year, for the first time ever, two rehearsal days were lost due to the snow ... so it was actually seven short days!
For the last ten years, the school has coordinated efforts with the Jefferson Youth Theater, based in Charlottesville, Virginia. The company was first introduced to the school when teacher Dianne Aronson's son was in a production with the same company at his own elementary school.
The following year, due to construction at the school, students put on the first production at the Bronxville Women's Club. In fact, Alice was first performed there in 2003. Parent Jane Sears's oldest son and daughter were in that production, and she has now come full circle with her youngest playing the part of the Mad Hatter this year.
With the remarkable help of parent volunteers, the annual play in January has become part of the fabric of the school. This year, the school was fortunate to have a new addition to the staff, parent Leisha Horin, whose amazing choreography gave each child a chance to shine.
Peter Ryan, who adapted the script, wrote original songs, built the sets, and directed the production, found a way to please everyone. In the two casts, Cast A and Cast B, most of the major roles were shared. For example, each cast had four Alices, who "grew" and "shrank" as they chased the White Rabbit on and off stage, and who also "changed" from Act I to Act II. You can only imagine coordinating costumes and rehearsing lines for eight Alices, two White Rabbits, four Cheshire Cats, and countless "caterpillar legs." Director Peter Ryan, when addressing the audience to explain the changes, stated, "Well, we're in Wonderland anyway!"
This year's dedicated theater arts committee consisted of two teachers, Dianne Aronson and Kendall Fousek, along with parents Jane Sears, Mariellen Carpenter, Cindy Randall, Erin Fraser, Ranny Hanau, Molly Hendrick, Susan O'Brien, and Romy Coquillette. Additionally, costume coordinator Jean Formato and her costume teams worked tirelessly to make sure all looked their best.
Without their support and the help of other innumerable parents, a production like this would not be possible. The two teachers who helped to produce the play are in awe of the time, commitment, and energy that the parent volunteers brought to the production. "We couldn't do it without them!" they say.
The halls of the Bronxville School were "abuzz" on Monday, with children, teachers, and parents feeling tired but happy. Accolades filled the air as proud children received compliments from teachers and friends. The big question now is: What will the play be next year? Click here to see photos of the cast! Alice in Wonderland Photos
Pictured here: Mark Sears in full costume as the Mad Hatter.