/SPECIAL FOR THE AJT/
The halls and auditorium are buzzing with activity as the GHA Players prepare for the presentation of their newest musical, “Alice in Wonderland Jr.,” on April 2, 3, and 6.
Preparations are widespread, as the production has a cast of 43 students. With the addition of the almost entirely student-based tech crew, there are approximately 50 students involved in “Alice in Wonderland Jr.”
“We make our productions a top-to-bottom learning opportunity for our students,” said Taryn Carmona, GHA’s Director of Drama and Artistic Director. “Joel Coady, our Technical Director, and I train and supervise everyone, but we have students backstage, a student as stage manager, students doing light and sound cues—we even had student volunteers painting the scenery.”
This musical version of Alice in Wonderland has been updated and modernized, so the cast warns viewers not to expect the Disney version of the story.
“The original books are a bit edgier than the Disney movie, and we returned to the feel of the Lewis Carroll books in our production—but with a modern twist,” said Ms. Carmona.
Many of the cast members say that they prefer this version to the classic movie. The entire group also agrees that the feeling backstage is warm and supportive, and that they are all having fun.
In fact, Jillian Gerson, the eighth grader playing Alice, said that her favorite part of the production has been hanging around backstage with the cast, which she says is like a family.
Fellow eighth grader Liana Slomka, who plays the Queen of Hearts, also cited the opportunity to take a leadership role and the fun she’s had getting to know younger kids as an important part of the experience.
“We have a large cast, and some of them are quite young—we have first graders in our chorus— so for lots of them, it’s their first time on stage,” said Ms. Carmona, “But our older kids are really rallying around the young ones, and they’ve worked hard to make them comfortable. The kids are very excited. Maybe a little nervous, but not worried.”
Ari Slomka, a sixth grader claimed that “Alice in Wonderland Jr.” preserves all the best parts from “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass.” Furthermore, he said that he’s been working very hard to prepare for his role as the White Rabbit.
“My character is always late, so I’ve been trying to slow myself down. Sorry, teachers, I have to do it for my role,” he said, with a distinctly Cheshire Cat sort of grin.
Jillian added, “I hope everyone enjoys the show. And don’t be late, because we already have someone who’s doing that!”
“Alice in Wonderland Jr.” will run Wednesday, April 2 at 4 p.m.; Thursday, April 3 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, April 6 at 3 p.m. All performances will be at Greenfield Hebrew Academy Auditorium, 5200 Northland Dr., Sandy Springs. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students under 14, and are available at www.showtix4u.com. For more information, visit players.ghacademy.org or call (404) 843-9900.