By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
A girl falling down a rabbit hole into a magical world is the premise of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” The Tar River Players will bring that tale to life for Edgecombe County audiences this weekend on the stage of Edgecombe Community College’s Keihin Auditorium.
The play opens tonight and closes June 30. Friday and Saturday performances this weekend and next are at 8 p.m., while Sunday performances are at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors, students and groups of 10 or more and are available at the door.
“I think ‘Alice’ is a classic story that most people have read or have read to them at one point in their life,” said play director Roberta Cashwell. “I think on that level, it attracts children of all ages.”
Morgan McNamara, 11, plays the lead role of Alice.
“This poor little girl falls down this big hole. Her first thought is, ‘How am I going to get out of here?’ Her second thought is, ‘Why is there a cat talking to me?” said McNamara. She said while Alice might ordinarily be amused by characters of Wonderland, the day she falls down the rabbit hole is her birthday, and all her friends are invited to her birthday party.
“All she wants to do is go home, and these people aren’t giving her any help. They’re all talking in riddles,” said McNamara
The cast of characters to which McNamara is referring includes the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum, and the Queen of Hearts.
While there are plenty of rhymes and riddles in Wonderland, to Alice, there seems to be no rhyme or reason for anything the Wonderland characters say or do. The Mad Hatter, for instance, poses questions such as “Why is raven like a writing desk?” The topic of conversation at the Hatter’s tea table ranges from watches and time to butter.
“The most difficult thing about this play is the nonsequitor dialogue. It isn’t coherent,” said Benjamin Curran, who plays the Mad Hatter. “It’s whimsical and fun, but trying to learn those lines isn’t easy.”
Curran describes the Mad Hatter as a “poisoned person” who is mad due to slow poisoning from a chemical substance in his felt hat and said learning the difficult role has been a “process of evolution.”
While the Mad Hatter raves, the dreaded ruler of Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts, played by Samantha Taylor, wanders around, ordering the executioner, played by Tripp Owens, to lop off people’s heads. Her counterpart the King, played by Porter Humbert, won’t directly challenge the Queen’s authority but finds a way to calm her temper.
“He always interrupts her when she’s going to have people executed,” said Humbert. Even one the Queen’s “flower children,” played by Autumn Bearden, 10, experiences her wrath.
“My mother tries to kill me, but Alice comes along and saves me,” Bearden said.
All the while, Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum are having one of their epic sibling battles. Joshua Newkirk plays for role of Twiddle Dee.
“He’s the twin brother of Twiddle Dum,” said Newkirk, an 8th grade student. “Me and my sister like to fight and then we go have tea.”
The majority of the cast members are young, and for many, it’s their first Players’ production.
“A third of the cast probably is new to the Players,” Cashwell said.