Shaker Theatre Presents 'Wonderland' As Spring Ensemble Show

The Shaker Heights High School Theatre Arts Department presents, The Spring Ensemble Show. A truly unique program, the three Ensembles will present the culmination of a year's worth of study and rehearsal. This year all three Ensembles are adapting Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

The story is about a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children.

Rather than performing the text of the book - or offering a modern version - the ensembles have spent the year connecting to the characters' circumstances and finding universal themes and stories. A type of devised theatre, Ensemble performances are new works that are created by the students. This offers opportunities to learn directing and choreography as well as diving deeply into the study of literature and theatre technique.

The production is directed by Department Chair and Ensemble Program Director Scott J. Sumerak,who also worked with the Stagecraft class to create the puppets and set pieces. The production is assisted by Junior Ensemble co-instructor Christine McBurney. The show features the lighting design of long-time technical director Chuck Tisdale, who will also be working with our student stage managers on the cues and running of the show.

A highlight of the evening will be three performance pieces created collaboratively by the ensembles and guest artists. These came from workshops with poet and songwriter Katie Daley and Annika Sheaff and supported by grants from the Ohio Arts Council, the James Thornton Guest Artist Fund, and Patrons of the Theatre Arts Department.

Annika Sheaff gave a workshop in shadow puppetry. Sheaff is an emerging choreographer and earned a BFA in dance from The Juilliard School. She was the first woman in the graduating class of 2006 to secure a job in the professional dance field. She toured the world with Pilobolus Dance Theater from 2006-2010 and has worked with Sesame Street, America's Got Talent, Dance Magazine, EXTRA!, Hyundai, Departures Magazine, and Channel 11 in Chicago.

Poet, performer, and teacher, Katie Daley taught a workshop on songwriting. Katie has hit the road countless times to bring her word-music to theaters, schoolrooms and nightclubs across the US and Canada. As a backup plan, in case she ever runs out of poetry gigs, she keeps a suitcase in her trunk overspilling with circus outfits and confetti.

The production also features movement pieces, illusion, puppetry - all the "wonder" we can bring to the stage.

Performances of the Spring Ensemble Show are at 7 p.m. on Friday April 15th , and Saturday, April 16th. The free Senior Adult Preview is at 4:00 pm Thursday, April 14th. This is our final dress rehearsal of the show. Shaker Heights High School Large Auditorium, 15911 Aldersyde Dr.

Tickets are by donation (i.e. choose your own price), and can be reserved approximately a week before the show online at or purchased in the lobby.

For more information, please call 216-295-6357 or email

Ensemble in the Community
The Ensemble Program has a strong history of community engagement.

The Senior Ensemble has performed at Fusion Fest at the Cleveland Play House; the iNGENUiTY festival downtown; and in alum Jon Leiken's (SHHS '90) A Concert for Cleveland's Future and Cleveland: The Musical at the newly restored Hanna Theatre.

They've enjoyed a collaboration with Hathaway Brown's Department of Dance; a benefit for the Ludlow Community Association; a performance and workshop at Mercer and Onaway Elementary Schools; performances at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes and Sunrise Assisted Living Center; annual performances at Shaker Middle School and A Night for the Red and White and the city of Shaker Heights' Shaker Centennial.

The Theatre Arts program has a long history of hosting Guest Artists. Recent visits and workshops have included:

and Associate Guest Artists

Shaker Theatre includes 8 daily classes and a production season including four main stage performances, six "showcase" performances, as well as professional workshops, touring performances and special events throughout the school year.

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