If you judge the quality of children’s theater by how enthralled young attendees are when watching the stage action, Quest Theaterworks’ current production of “Alice in Wonderland” is a winner. When I saw the play, there were more than two-dozen youngsters, ranging from about a year old up to older teens, and all were captivated by the performance — as were the many adults who smiled frequently at the familiar story.
Quest Theaterworks, formerly known as Ewing Ventures, has turned the Grass Valley Odd Fellows Hall into an environment conducive for children’s theater, complete with pint-sized chairs for the little ones and regular chairs for those of us with larger rear ends. The set is simple and close to the seats, allowing the kids to feel integrated into the play. In fact, several of the children were selected to actually take part by sitting on stage for a brief time or positioning themselves as the arches for the Queen’s croquet game.
The cast consists of just three actors. Alice, charmingly played by Tina Marie Sibly, is on stage for most of the 45 minutes of the performance — I really like how she makes her repeated height growth and shrinkage believable. Paul Micsan is perfectly cast as Lewis Carroll as well as the Caterpiller, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen, the White Rabbit and several other characters. He disappears for a moment and changes costume each time he adopts another persona, much to the delight of the audience. And you’ve never seen a human channel the Cheshire Cat until you’ve seen Micsan’s toothy grin! Rounding out the cast is a sweet Fiona Berardi, dressed as a playing card.
Director Susan Mason has created a visual treat, keeping the action moving at a brisk pace to retain the interest of her young audience — the costume and character changes are well done and allow the story to flow smoothly. The costumes, designed by Santia Enos Kreos, help to project the aura of fantasy that the tale requires.
Grab a youngster — your child, grandchild, relative or neighbor — and treat her or him to an imaginative and intriguing theater experience that both the kids and you will enjoy. “Alice in Wonderland” plays at the Odd Fellows Hall at 113 S. Church in Grass Valley at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays through April 14.
Hindi Greenberg wishes that, like Alice, she could find a pill or a bottle that would allow her to grow taller.