A modern take on a surreal story

‘Alice v. Wonderland’ will open with 50 cast members

Alice 6 (Becca Bennett) is about to lose her head at the hand of the Knave of Hearts (Mcleod Turner) while the rest of the cast looks on. Thankfully, there is a happy ending. Buy this photo

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“Alice v. Wonderland”

Where: Washburn Performing Arts Center at WHS, 1201 39th St.

How much: $6 for adults, and $5 for students and senior citizens.

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9.

There’s something about the “Alice in Wonderland” story which is timeless.

“Kids are still fascinated by it,” said Kelly Gregersen, drama director at Washougal High School. “For years, I’ve been looking for a fun version of it so we could perform it here. We haven’t had a fairy tale in a long time.”

After a friend of his premiered a high school production of “Alice v. Wonderland” last year, Gregersen knew he’d found the play he wanted: A modern, rock ‘n’ roll take on a classic story.

“Think ‘Alice in Wonderland’ meets Lady Gaga,” Gregersen said. “Alice is a teenager instead of a little girl, and all of the settings are very modern.”

Another twist is that there are six characters who play Alice.

“She splits into six different parts of her personality depending on the situation,” he said. “Like all of us, everyone is a bit of everything. It’s a fun little piece.”

Alice gets sucked into Wonderland while writing a blog, and the adventures begin with Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, who are classic mean girls, two caterpillars who are club D.J.’s, and a whole host of familiar characters, albeit with a modern twist.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this play has been the opportunity for the cast to pick their own music.

“We have a mix of well-known rock songs to modern pieces that are more obscure,” Gregersen said. “We’ll have a band on stage, but the cast is also singing.”

The play proved to be so popular that Gregersen had to turn away about 20 students.

“The kids are very excited about it,” he said. “There’s a great opportunity for the performing group to make the show what they want it to be.”

Hayden Kraff, a senior, is the musical director and lead guitar player.

“I’ve been playing the guitar for 10 years and used to tour with the Paul Green School of Music,” he said. “Music has always been my main thing and it feels good to be doing it again.”

Kraff decided to get involved after finding out he would be able to select most of the music for the play.

“It’s been a challenge, though,” he said. “As a director, you can’t be as nice as you want to be. I don’t want to get on stage and do a big screw up.”

Despite the logistical challenges, Kraff appreciates the experience.

“I’ve just really enjoyed just playing the music and getting back into it again,” he said.

Junior Nicole Gamble arranged choreography for most of the songs and worked with Gregersen on the others. She also plays the Black Dahlia.

Jessica Schlauch, a junior, has been in four productions prior to trying out for Alice v. Wonderland. She is playing the role of one of the caterpillars, who are two parts but have one brain.

“The lines have been difficult because we have to finish each other’s sentences,” she said. “But I really like this play because I have always wanted to play a hippie character, and this is my way of being able to do that.”

Junior Madison Hulcher is one of the dancers in the production.

“When you’re part of an ensemble, finding your character is really tough,” she said. “The dance movements are different from what I am used to.”

However, she has enjoyed the whole experience.

“You pretty much become a family,” she said. “When you get into rehearsal, you can just be yourself and can mess up and it’s OK. It’s my safe haven, and totally different than the typical high school environment.”