Groton on the Inside

‘Wonderland’ gets modern twist on stage

(Left to right) “Alice@Wonderland” student actors Olivia Townsend, Megan Cute and William Brehm. Townsend and Brehm each play The Cheshire Cat in different scenes and are seen here running lines with “Alice” during rehearsal.
(Left to right) “Alice@Wonderland” student actors Olivia Townsend, Megan Cute and William Brehm. Townsend and Brehm each play The Cheshire Cat in different scenes and are seen here running lines with “Alice” during rehearsal.
Photo by Linda Competillo
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What would happen if Lewis Carroll’s classic “Alice in Wonderland” got a modern twist? This modern retelling has all the characters you know and love, including the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts and the Cheshire Cat, but in this humorous version, a distinctly contemporary Alice, with her cell phone in hand, encounters the Wonderland so many of us treasure.

You won’t want to miss the Groton Jr. High School’s (a.k.a. Middle School) production of “Alice@Wonderland” by Jonathan Yukich at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23 in the high school auditorium, 400 Peru Rd., as that will be the only performance. Cost is $5 for adults and $3 for students, with children age 10 and under being admitted free of charge.

Directed by Groton alumna, Kayla Lyon ’08, for the fifth consecutive year, this production is hailed by the Pioneer Drama Service as “a quality adaptation of the classic tale that has been praised for its humor, modern style and appeal to both children and adults.”

Lyon, who earned her bachelor of arts in theatre in 2012 from Nazareth College, has a long history of involvement on stage herself. Throughout her middle and high school years, she was involved in youth summer theater in Binghamton, as well as locally in the “Running to Places” theater group, for which she is currently serving as a member of its board of directors.

During Lyon’s GHS years, she acted in all three of the musicals that were produced while she attended there: “The Wizard of Oz” and “Cinderella” and, most notably, the role of Zeitl in “Fiddler on The Roof,” which earned her the Best Supporting Actress award at the Cortland Repertory Theatre’s Pavilion Awards, as well as a scholarship from CRT to further her theatre education at Nazareth College that fall.

When the senior high school takes the stage this coming March with “The Little Mermaid,” it will mark Lyon’s seventh production as the assistant director. Ninth grader Braedy Dilger is serving as Lyon’s assistant director for “Alice@Wonderland” and said that “working with Kayla is a blast!”

“It’s incredible to watch kids fit their characters like a glove,” Digler said. “They have so much energy on and off the stage, and I feel a connection to all of them. It’s such a blessing to be a part of such a community.”

Megan Cute, who plays the part of Alice, is in eighth grade and said she was truly shocked but so happy that she landed the role. Having played the part of one of the orphans in the high school production of “Annie” last year, Cute said she feels very honored to be playing a lead role in just her second year in drama.

Cute’s overall impression of this version of the play is that “all the characters on Alice’s journey through Wonderland have taught her lessons to be a better person. Alice is more whimsical in the original story, and she is very sassy and really embodies a teen in this version.”

“Alice is fun to play because she can get loud and crazy,” Cute said. “It’s a challenge for me because I am not that way, but I will take playing this role into my own life because it’s given me confidence.”

Justin Batzer, the eighth grader who plays the King of Hearts, said this is his third year in drama, and he wants to make this final year his best before he moves on to senior high. He said he wanted to be the Mad Hatter or the Cheshire Cat, and was very surprised that he was chosen for his role.

Batzer said he dabbles at being a cosplayer and, because of that, would like to make his own crown for the play. He also hopes to help Lyon with the play next year, even though he will have moved on. He said he has younger siblings coming up the ranks and wants to stay involved to inspire his whole family “to be in drama.”

In addition to Cute and Batzer, there is quite a cast: Brynn Blasz (Queen of Hearts), Lena Brehm (Mad Hatter), Michael Brehm (Queen’s Guard #2), William Brehm (Fish-Newsie, Cheshire Cat 1), Peyton Conger (Chorus Member #2, Violet), Julia “Jules” Garcia (Caterpillar, Door #1), Luke McIntyre (Dormouse, Humpty Dumpty), Diella Niño (March Hare, Chorus Member #3), Willow Orr (White Rabbit, Chorus Member #4), Caryssa Personius (Daisy, Queen’s Guard #1), Alyssa Prentice (Tweedledee, Door #2), Ellyanna Sturmer (Lily, Tiny Door), Jeannette “Jaxon” Thomas-Groch (Tweedledum, Door #3), Olivia Townsend (Frog-Newsie, Cheshire Cat 2) and Riley Vliet (Chorus Member #1, Rose).

Lyon said she chose this show because she thought it was time to do something classic, and this one is a nice abbreviated modern twist. She said it is similar to the classic Carroll version in that it has a lot of the same characters and that Alice shows a lot of growth and maturity in both.

What makes it different is some modern flair.

“Alice has a cell phone and she learns to put it down and look around her,” Lyon said. “There are also characters in this version not in the original, such as Humpty Dumpty.”

When asked what has made the biggest impression on her during the rehearsals for this show, Lyon said she loves working with the kids.

“It’s great to have a group of kids who truly love to be in drama club,” she said. “Many don’t do sports, so it’s great for them to have this outlet. It’s just so special to be a part of it.”
 
Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, lmc10@cornell.edu or 607-227-4922.
 
In brief:
 
Reverse Advent at Food Pantry
 
Have you or your family ever used an Advent calendar? Most of them involve opening something each day during the Advent season and taking something out.

The Groton Food Pantry coordinator, Jessamine Stone, would like to invite anyone in the community to participate in a “Reverse Advent Calendar” project, which would involve an individual, a family, a business, sports team, classroom, local club, etc. partnering with the GFN to add items each day of Advent into a box of provisions for a family in need.

Those who volunteer to build a box would receive a four-week calendar with items to add to the box each day. For example, one day might be a jar of peanut butter, a can of vegetables a box of cereal and so on. That’s what makes this project a reverse Advent; rather than take something out each day, you will put something in.

“Christmas is a very difficult time of year for many families,” Stone said. “Many find themselves dreading the holiday because they do not have the means to enjoy the holiday festivities. This breaks the hearts of our volunteers and me, so we have chosen to do something to help change this for families in our local community.”

The calendar begins Monday, Nov. 25 and goes through Sunday, Dec. 22. Completed boxes can be dropped off on Dec. 22 or 23, and boxes will be distributed to families on Dec. 24.

For questions, to be involved or to suggest a family who would benefit from a box, contact Stone at (607) 592-4825 or grotonfoodproviders18@outlook.com.
 
Line Dancing
 
The Groton Rotary Club invites the public for some holiday food, fun and line dancing from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9 at the Cortland Country Music Park, 1824 State Rt. 13. Lessons are available for those new to line dancing! Cost is $5 per person. Reserve a spot with Mona Forney at monaforney@aol.com.
 
Village leaf pickup reminder
 
Residents of the Village of Groton may have their raked leaves picked up and taken away through Monday, Dec. 2. The DPW supervisor, Chad Shurtleff, reminds everyone that leaves should be raked to the curb or street side for pickup; they will not accept plastic bags, brush or vines. They are happy to provide this service and appreciate your cooperation and understanding that it is for leaves only.

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