The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Alice takes center stage
“Alice in Wonderland” will have a colorful and elaborate costume wardrobe and will also be the first play to be performed in the reconstructed theater. Tony Wallin | [email protected]

The classic tale of a 7-year-old girl who falls into a land of wonder is a story most children come to know and now City College students will get to revisit.

City College’s new Performing Arts Center will opens its doors to present its first theatrical production of the season Nov. 16 until Dec. 18 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. “Alice in Wonderland,” still in the early stages of production, must undergo tasks such as rehearsing for a new theater style and being fit for costumes.

“This is our very first show in our brand new remodeled theater,” says “Alice in Wonderland” costume director Nicole Sivell. “We’ve got this beautiful gigantic stage to fill and I think we’re going to endeavor to make things as big and over the top as we can.”

Lewis Carroll’s classic tale “Alice in Wonderland” will be the first performance to light up the PAC stage since its reconstruction. Theater arts professor and “Alice in Wonderland” director Luther Hanson brings Carroll’s beloved narrative to life in a manner “that [students] have never seen before,” he says.

“There will definitely be some familiar elements that people are expecting to see, but I think folks will be surprised by a few things as well,” says Sivell.

In the meantime, the play, which is still weeks away, has kept everyone involved in the production busy. Ashley Olson, a City College student that has been cast to play the part of Alice, says that she not only had to show up for one audition, but three.

“The first day we did cold readings, which is where they will just give you a scene and a character, and they say ‘read for this character,’” says Olson. “The first character I read for was a crying baby that did nothing other than cry.”

The following days after the first day of readings, Olson says she went back for dancing and singing auditions.

Once the task of casting was out of the way, Hanson and theater arts professor Christine Nicholson say they were finally ready to schedule their first rehearsal for Sept. 25. In the development of any theatrical play, rehearsals are always the most crucial stage; especially for a piece like “Alice in Wonderland”, where a great portion of the script is based off improv from the actors, says Hanson, which in turn allows them to develop and expand scenes before opening night.

“This is where the fun happens,” says Hanson. “We rehearse for about eight weeks, we do a lot of improv in rehearsal to develop scenes…we start off with the basic story of ‘Alice,’ get as much in there as we need to keep it together and then go on from that.”

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The origins of British pantomime—also known as “panto”—dates all the way back to the Middle Ages, but the panto that exists today is predominately aimed at children with plots that are based on famous fairy tales or folk legends such as “Cinderella,” “Aladdin” and “Peter Pan.”

“It is a mix of a fractured fairytale, dance, music, circus acts and current songs with changed lyrics—one big goofy holiday extravaganza,” says Hanson. “It is fascinating for children and adults at the same time.”

After having seen 10 pantomime shows in Britain and Canada, Nicholson and Hanson say they realized that almost no one was practicing pantomime theater in the U.S., and as Hanson says they “decided to give it a try.”

“It’s a great entertainment for the holidays,” says Hanson. “It’s great for the whole family, it’s great for our students to learn a new form of [theater] and there’s a lot of opportunity for students in a show like this, especially this year in the big new space. We’re excited we get to make this really spectacular and colorful.”

Nicholson’s parody script uses all the elements of traditional pantomime without losing too much of Carroll’s original narrative of “Alice” at the same time, as the theme good versus evil with the hero emerging triumph is one of the basic fundamentals a pantomime play must include.

“Alice in Wonderland” will be City College’s first pantomime play, and to stick to the roots of panto as much as possible, Nicholson says she will be incorporating well-known British panto characters into her script that will serve as the comedy relief.

Carroll’s plot of Alice getting lost in Wonderland, meeting the Red Queen and others will be all present in Nicholson’s panto version of “Alice in Wonderland” along with other common pantomime customs such as the use of costumes, songs from modern day pop culture and music will be all combined into the final production of the play.

“It’s not your normal show,” Olson says. “People think that when you go to the theater you have to be quiet…no it’s very audience interactive and it really kind of forces the audience to just have fun, sit back and relax.”

Tickets are currently available for purchase online at, as well as, for $15 and $13 for students and seniors. Children under 12 years of age are free.

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