Most actors would be upset if their performance were described as "wooden." But the cast of StageCenter's Alice in Wonderland would consider it a compliment.
Actors will be playing walls, doors, croquet wickets and even a rabbit hole as director Amy Ressler challenges the audience to use its imagination.
"I think that's what Lewis Carroll intended when he wrote Alice in Wonderland," Ressler said. "He wanted his readers to use their imagination."
Costumes will be more suggested than literal. For instance, Matthieu Myrick's outfit as the White Rabbit will consist of a hat with floppy, bunny ears and a vest.
Ressler has chosen a creative solution to the problem of shrinking Alice after she drinks the potion. Instead of the little girl getting smaller, the door becomes larger by exchanging the people who portray the door.
"The actors will use body language to express their roles as objects," Ressler said. "It's been an interesting process. I'll say try this or try that. Or one of the actors might suggest something. Some things haven't worked out, but most have. The cast has been very collaborative and receptive."
Some special effects, such as the appearance and disappearance of the Cheshire Cat, will be accomplished by lighting tricks.
"The columns on stage have been a challenge to work around in other productions," Ressler said of the unique aspect of the community theater's new home in the former 3rd Floor Cantina. "But I've had fun figuring out how to use them in this show."
The story about the little girl who follows a white rabbit down a hole and ends up meeting a host of odd characters, such as a Mad Hatter, Mock Turtle and a deck of cards come to life, has been a children's favorite since it was published in 1865. Ressler said StageCenter's version should be just as appealing to kids. An example is the courtroom scene in which the jury will be sock puppets made by cast member Allie Dillard.
William Glennon's adaptation of Carroll's classic follows the original closely.
"At the end, Alice says she hopes everyone gets to visit Wonderland," Ressler said. "The play has a lot of fantasy and fun."
Alice in Wonderland will run April 12-14, 19-22 and 26-28 at 201B W. 26th St. in Bryan. All performances are at 7:30 p.m. except for a 2 p.m. matinee April 22. Tickets for children under 12 have been reduced to $5. Adult tickets are $10; tickets are $8 for students and senior citizens.
A special tea party with Alice and the Mad Hatter will be at 1 p.m. April 22. Tickets are $8 for the party and play. Reservations are required by calling 823-4297.