Berwick Children Take Part in Local Production of ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Berwick Children Take Part in Local Production of ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Eleven-year-old Nolan Young of North Berwick plays a friendly, happy caterpillar in one scene and a rather timid king in another scene of "Alice in Wonderland," showing this week at Hackmatack Playhouse in Berwick.

"The caterpillar is more about having fun and being yourself," said Nolan, "but the king is more shy and like 'you do all the action and I'll sit down and watch.'"

Like actors of all ages, Young really loves jumping into different characters.

"I like getting to not be yourself for a day or two or a week or something," said Nolan, one of about a dozen campers who will get to play two or even three roles in Alice, showing 10 am Friday and Saturday, Aug 3 and 4.

After five weeks of rehearsal at Hackmatack camp, "Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr." will feature children between 7 and 13 on stage singing, dancing and doing their best to inhabit the bottom of the rabbit hole.

Camp director Christopher Gempp chose this show because of the lively characters and the chance for children to really get into developing their roles.

"I selected Alice in Wonderland because of the unique characters," said Gempp, who teaches at Timberlane Middle School during the year and is now in his second year directing "Hack-ma-camp. "Last year they really enjoyed the distinct characters in Treasure Island so I wanted campers to have the chance again to develop unique characters."

Sarah Hashem of North Berwick, who plays woodwinds in the pit for Hackmatack's main stage, is the camp's musical director. A senior at University of Southern Maine, Hashem has also played in the orchestra pit for the Rochester Opera House, Prescott Park Arts Festival, Schoolhouse Arts Center, Stages Youth Theater, University of Southern Maine, and several public schools.

Gempp and Hashem added an extra week of camp this year so they could slow the pace of rehearsals, and give campers time to design and create costumes and props.

There are so many characters in this tale, that the actors each play multiple roles, except, the actors who play the White Rabbit and The Cheshire Cat. In this version there are three different Alices who change throughout the play as Alice changes height.

"We talked about developing certain motions and characteristics, such as Alice's attitude throughout to keep it consistent," Gempp said.

Children playing more than one role had to learn how to distinguish between their parts.

"We talked about how to be different characters and act differently on stage depending on who you were," said Gempp.

While Young was asked to inhabit two very different characters, 11-year- old Andrea Marshall of Berwick had to play two parts that have a good amount in common - the Queen of Hearts and Alice's sister, Matilda.

"The queen when I think of her is really obnoxious and loud and Matilda is really bossy so they have some things in common," said Marshall, a veteran of four plays at her school. "But they also same parts different. The big difference is that the Queen is royal and Matilda is not so I have to act regal and like I'm everything."

Alice in Wonderland Jr. will be showing 10 am Friday and Saturday, Aug. 3 and 4 at Hackmatack Playhouse in Berwick. For more information, call 207-698-1807 or go the website t

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