By Shadrach Michaels/The Ely Times
The Ely Children’s Community Theater was founded in 2014 as a ministry of the Ely United Methodist Church. Since then it has been serving the people of White Pine County by providing cultural enrichment and entertainment opportunities to children and adults alike.
This is the theater’s 8th major production and the first without its founding director, Pastor Suzanne Calhoun.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is Daniel Murphree’s directorial debut. He stepped up to take the reins, having free time outside of his college-level mathematics classroom at Great Basin College during the summer break.
“Suzanne got reassigned for her church duty and I said I’ll try it this time.” Daniel said. “We chose Alice because we thought it was a play that a lot of the children would enjoy; with a smaller cast it was easier to fill, which is more ideal more people are away in the summer months. It seemed one that was easier for a freshman crew to produce.”
Amid the pre-rehearsal chaos Murphree was all smiles while the rambunctious cast, cald in their colorful costumes filled the space with laughter and energy. Nervous energy seemed palpable with actors trying on Humpty Dumpty makeup for the first time, Duchesses and Dukes darted to and fro, Mad Hatters and talking flowers showed off their duds.
The million dollar question, ‘Are you ready?’ brought an even bigger smile from Murphree, “I think it’s come together. We have these rehearsals and a full-dress rehearsal on Thursday. The only thing we need is support for the kids, so come to the show. And come be a part of the productions. We have actors as young as 5 years old to 30 somethings in this play. There are parts for everyone, especially for our big production coming in the spring.”
This is one of the first productions that is not a musical. It’s a combination of both Lewis Caroll books, Alice Through the Looking Glass and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, “If you are expecting the Disney version this is not it; but it dips a bit into both books,” Murphree said. “You’ll see the Red and White Queens, the Cheshire Cat and crossing the Chess board.”
The wide range of cast members is a true collection of talented young performers. It’s sure to be a delightful spectacle.
The nonsense of the classic literature carries through from the opening lines and as we watched the actors get underway into their performances each weird and wacky character comes to life right off the pages of the Victorian story books.
Travis Petersen, a professional thespian at this point, having been in each play, and acting since age four, was cast as the White Rabbit. “I’m ready, I know my lines pretty well,” Petersen said. “I’ve read the books and enjoy them. I’ve been doing this for so long, singing, dancing and doing plays and it’s good to be one of the main characters.”
Petersen is sure to be a crowd favorite.
As the actors were called to their marks and the lights dimmed for the run through, Petersen mentioned one important reminder to those of you who may have missed this chance but are still thinking about stepping onto the stage into the limelight, “You should come and watch, and then come get into the cast next year in the spring when we do The Music Man.”
The Ely Children’s Community Theater presents Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23 and 24, with encore performances Aug. 30 and 31.
Tickets are $6 for regular seating or $8 for preferred seating in the front two rows and can be purchased at Economy Drug or by contacting Stephen Bishop, Murphree or bought at the door. Seating is limited and family friendly. Curtain call for each Friday performance is 7 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. at the Ely Methodist Church, 1100 S. Pioche Highway. Go down the rabbit hole and lose yourself while exploring this wonderland, because a little nonsense now and then never hurts.