‘Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.’ offers family fare in Wyandotte

Photo by Sue Suchyta
Abby Myers (second row, third from left), 12, of Flat Rock, plays Alice in “Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.” with the Downriver Actors Guild Feb. 14 to 23 at the James R. Desana Center for Arts and Culture, 81 Chestnut St. in Wyandotte. Her flower ensemble includes Brianne Rainey (first row, left), 13, of Brownstown Township; Trinity Irby, 13, of Wyandotte; Elizabeth Exel (second row, left), 14, of Woodhaven; Haley Clark, 12, of New Boston; Isabel Perez, 10, of Southgate; Jessah Price (third row, left), 14, of Taylor; Jenna Gadille, 16, of South Rockwood; and Miranda Brown, 15, of Lincoln Park. For tickets and more information call 313-303-5269 or go to www.downriveractorsguild.net.

Whether moving through mirrors or wandering down rabbit holes, Alice and her adventures in Wonderland inspire children today much as she has for generations.

Local families may now watch her adventures unfold onstage as the Downriver Actors Guild presents “Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.”

The play, based on the stories by Lewis Carroll, features script and lyrics by David Simpatico, with additional lyrics and music adaptation, arrangement and new music by Bryan Louiselle.

The 49-member cast, ages 9 to 18, opens the show Friday on the second floor theater in the James R. Desana Center for Arts and Culture at 81 Chestnut St. in Wyandotte.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14, 15 and 22, and 3 p.m. Feb. 16 and 23.

Tickets are $10. To order, or for more information, call 313-303-5269 or go to www.downriveractorsguild.net.

Since Alice shrinks and grows, three actors portray her: Elaina Primeau, 9, of Brownstown Township is short Alice; Abby Myers, 12, of Flat Rock is regular Alice; and Kayla Smith, 17, of Huron Township is tall Alice.

Alex Rosen, 15, of Lincoln Park plays Tweedle Dum, with Bethany Fink, 14, of Lincoln Park as Tweedle Dee. Jonathan Darling, 17, of Wyandotte plays the March Hare and Josh Primeau, 11, of Brownstown Township plays the White Rabbit. Paris Fisher, 9, of Rockwood plays the colorful Dodo Bird.

The gradually disappearing Cheshire Cat, who narrates the story, is portrayed onstage by three young actresses working in tandem as the head, torso and hindquarters: Isabella Greene, 10, a dual resident of Wyandotte and Taylor; Isabella Owens, 8, of Riverview; and Elyana Cecil, 8, of Southgate.

Alice’s flowered friends include Brianne Rainey, 13, of Brownstown Township; Trinity Irby, 13, of Wyandotte; Elizabeth Exel, 14, of Woodhaven; Haley Clark, 12, of Huron Township; Isabel Perez, 10, of Southgate; Jessah Price, 14, of Taylor; Jenna Gadille, 16, of South Rockwood; and Miranda Brown, 15, of Lincoln Park.

Director Deborah Aue said the classic Disney show will appeal to families on many levels.

She said to make Alice seem like she is shrinking or growing, they use three different actors in identical costumes and wigs. She said stage lighting helps achieve a smooth transition between the appearances of the three, as well as creative staging, like the fabric used to create the illusion of the ocean of tears.

She said their caterpillar, instead of smoking a pipe, blows bubbles, a child-friendly modification.

Aue said the family-oriented play provides a fun weekend evening or afternoon for parents to enjoy with their children.

“Adults will appreciate the little innuendoes that are hidden in the script,” Aue said. “Some of the double meanings of some of the phrases from when they were a teenager, they will be reminded of that.”

Children will enjoy the music, songs and bright costumes, she said.

Aue said the young actors face a new challenge presenting the show at the Desana Center.

“It’s actually in the round,” Aue said, “so the children are learning to play to both sides of the audience. It is almost like an arena, where you have seats on both sides.”

Aue added that she is pleased to have so many teens in the cast, and she said many are mentoring the preteen cast members.

“The cast itself has been really great,” she said. “The kids help each other.”

People should order their tickets early because the seating is limited to about 125 seats per performance, Aue said, and with 49 children in the cast, there is a distinct possibility that some performances will sell out.

Disney on Ice “Let’s Celebrate!” brings 50 favorite Disney characters to life March 19 to 23 at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

The action-filled show features a montage of contemporary music and favorite Disney songs, including a winter wonderland with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, a Halloween haunt with the Disney Villains, a Royal Ball with the Disney Princesses and a Very Merry Un-birthday Party.

Tickets are available at The Palace Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 800- 745-3000 and online at www.ticketmaster.com.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. March 19, 20, 21 and 22, at 11 a.m. March 21, and at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. March 22 and 23.

For additional ice show information, go to www.disneyonice.com.

The madcap mayhem of Ken Ludwig’s “Moon Over Buffalo” opens Feb. 21 and runs in rotating repertory through April 5 at Wayne State University’s Hilberry Theatre.

The story, set in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1953, focuses on fading actors George and Charlotte Hay who try to restore their fleeting fame, faltering touring company and marriage with side-splittingly funny results. As comedy collides with misunderstandings, George and Charlotte attempt to save all three, but are unsure which show they are supposed to be performing.

The funny backstage farce celebrates its opening with the announcement of the 2014-15 Hilberry Theatre season.

Tickets are $12 to $30, and available at 313-577-2972, online at http://wsushows.com or through the Hilberry box office, 4743 Cass Ave. in Detroit.