Jaia Garraway (left) and Paxton Richardsen (right) both play Alice and Kiara Dodd plays the White Rabbit in the Wellington Secondary School production of Follow that Rabbit. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Wellington Secondary drama program stages adaptation of ‘Alice in Wonderland’

Production will feature two actresses in the role of Alice

Audiences will be seeing double when they attend this year’s Wellington Secondary School musical theatre class production.

From May 22 to 25 the Wildcat Theatre Company is staging Follow that Rabbit, an adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice and Wonderland by American playwright Tim Kelly. There are 50 students from Grades 9 to 12 working on all areas of the play, with more than 30 appearing on stage.

A pair of those students are playing the same character, as the Wellington production splits the role of Alice between two actresses, Grade 11 students Jaia Garraway and Paxton Richardsen.

Drama teacher Peter Spencer said it was a practical decision and helps contribute to the play’s dreamlike atmosphere.

“The technical reason was because it is such a heavy role line-wise – they’re in every scene – so what we’ve decided to do to make it a bit easier on the actresses is we’ve split the character in two … and they pretty much alternate scenes,” Spencer said. “So it makes for a little bit of mystery when one Alice exits one side of the stage and the other Alice comes in from a completely different side.”

This is Richardsen’s on-stage debut. She said she auditioned out of curiosity and was shocked when she heard she got the part.

“I thought that I would get a smaller role,” she said. “The experiences I have had the past couple of months have been quite interesting. I don’t know what I expected. All I expected was to do my best.”

Garraway, on the other hand, has acted since the age of seven when she played an Oompa Loompa in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Last year she performed at the North Island Regional Drama Festival at Vancouver Island Univeristy, but this is her first time in a lead role.

She said she’s surprised Richardsen is a beginner and enjoys sharing the role of Alice with her. But she was initially unsure of the idea.

“I was iffy at first because I was like, ‘I don’t know how this is going to work, it might seem weird,’” she said. “But working with it has just been so much fun and it’s this whole new idea and it adds that very dreamlike dimension.”

WHAT’S ON … The Wildcat Theatre Company presents Follow that Rabbit at Wellington Secondary School, 3135 Mexicana Rd., from Wednesday, May 22 to Saturday, May 25 at 7 p.m. Tickets $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, children under five pay their age.


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