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West Hawaii Dance Theatre & Academy brings ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ to Waimea

Updated: 
May 19, 2017 - 8:47am

Get whisked away to a world of fantasy where all things are possible next Saturday when West Hawaii Dance Theatre & Academy puts a fresh, jazzy touch on the beloved classic “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

Donning colorful, snazzy costumes pumped up with all sorts of glitz and glam, about 80 local dancers — including guest dancers from Maui Academy of Performing Arts — will lead Alice and the audience down the rabbit hole into a whimsical world of unique characters performing a variety of dance styles including not just ballet, but also lyrical, contemporary, tap and hip hop stylings.

“This is our most creative show that we’ve done. We have the most props ever and the coolest costumes — it’s going to look super cool,” said Soleil Fitz-Gerald, 17, who plays the March Hare. “I think this is one of the most amazing shows I’ve been a part of.”

The one-show-only production, under the direction of Megan Joy Chapman, as well as WHDT Artistic Director Virginia Holte, Co-Director Midori Satoh, and instructors Juanita Finkenberg, Jenna Ojeda and Ann Marie Pargett, gets underway at 4 p.m. May 27 at the historic Kahilu Theatre.

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” tells the story of Alice, a curious young girl who encounters a lively white rabbit who leads her down a rabbit hole into a fascinating land where all things are possible — but nothing makes sense.

As Alice follows White Rabbit, she meets interesting characters including the Cheshire Cat, a Garden of Living Flowers, The Knave of Hearts who’s on the run for stealing a treat, Dormouse, March Hare, The Mad Tapper, a Caterpillar, and the villain of the story, The Queen of Hearts, along with her Card attendants and “Small King,” all of whom she bosses and threatens to behead.

Playing Alice is Catie Hendrickson, a 17-year-old from Captain Cook who’s been with WHDT for 6 1/2 years. It’s also her last performance with the dance company before heading off to college.

“It’s going to be super fun because the music is awesome, the costumes are so crafty and colorful and exciting,” she said.

The local production brings to life the Lewis Carroll classic with a fresh twist inspired by Christopher Wheeldon’s choreography for The Royal Ballet’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” which premiered in 2011. It features the music of Joby Talbot and Carl Davis.

“Of all the ballets I’ve seen, and there have been many, this is my favorite so far. Wheeldon is a brilliant choreographer and director. He adds a touch of contemporary in with classical, which I love. That’s how I like to choreograph,” said Chapman, also noting the production is her first foray into directing. “When I first saw the ballet, I was struck with the originality. There was video added in with interesting set and props. It was just one of those productions that made me really excited and stuck with me.”

Chapman, a dance instructor/performer/choreographer who began her journey with the nonprofit theater in 1998, also put her own touch on the three-act production, adding more dance styles.

“It’s not strictly ballet. Our Hatter, for example, is The Mad Tapper,” she said.

She also created an original character, Zoolily Fancypants.

“It was a blast writing a zany script for this childlike wonderland character,” she said.

Playing Zoolily Fancypants is 15-year-old Kira Kane. Her job is to be essentially a narrator, who sets the place and scene.

“You’re coming whether you like it or not,” Kane said to prospective attendees, embracing her role full-heartedly. “You’re going to come and follow along with these characters.”

And, Chapman worked in some subtle changes to the story, including the creation of an original piece called “The River,” where Alice can take a break from the busyness in Wonderland to find peace and joy to continue her journey, instead of the “Pool of Tears.”

“Although we used our initial inspiration from Christopher Wheeldon’s version of Alice, it was important to me to bring my own spin on it. There are parts of the original story where I wanted to make some subtle changes that would cause the audience to think and reflect,” she explained.

Tickets range in price from $23 to $28 and can be purchased online at www.kahilutheatre.org.

THE CAST

Addison Schussler

Ailani Martinson

Aiylie Sakurari

Alamea Hooser

Alexis Pargett

Amanda Kaleohano

Andrew Fung

Ann Marie Pargett

Aria Cohn

Aubrey Bailado

Bria Hendrickson

Brooke McCullough

Canaan Kanoho

Catie Hendrickson

Chloe Taniyama-Mento

Elizabeth Pargett

Enna Hendrickson

Gabe Elfman-Hanson (Maui)

Gabrielle Lantzer

Giselle West

Heidi Hart

Iyla Kapuniai

Ila Henry

Iyris Kapuniai

Jessica King

Joana Schaetzle

Journey Mead

Julia Schaeltzle

Kaia Criswell

Karen Eckert

Keiko Felte

Kira Kane

Lana Frechette

Leah McCandless

Lehua Ching-Warren

Leialoha Keala

Leilah Alegam

Leilani Kathe

Lily Newhouse

Lily Thomas

Lucie Hendrickson

Luna Branum

Lyro-Anne Ku

Maddie Bleich

Madeleine Post

Maiya Fox

Mako Yamamoto

Malina Martinson

Maya Calilao

Mia Renz

Mia Teves

Mikiala Oka

Moe Kawakami

Mya Trpkovski

Mylah Roschi

Nadia Jones

Noelani Loughery-Kawaihoa

Penelope Obra

Peyton Roback

Railee-Grace Ayoso

Rayna Morphis

Rell Burton

ReyAnne Simpliciano

Sadie Hobbeheydar

Saige Kahihikolo

Sati Lamb

Savanah Noya

Serena King

Shalee Akau

Sofia Shimaoka

Soleil Fitz-Gerald

Sophia Oka-Fedde

Susie Krall

Taylor Halloway

Tiare-Hana Roach

TJ Makos Kanichi Idemoto (Maui)

Trinity Kahihikolo

Vera Geer

Xochilt Romo

Zoe Teves

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