Children’s Theatre serves up ‘Alice in Wonderland’

In The Children’s Theater production of “Alice in Wonderland,” Alice, played by Amanda Finney, right, 16, of Camden, attends a tea party with, from right, The March Hare, played by Carol Woolverton, 16, of Greensboro, Md.; The Dormouse, played by Jesse Rich, 10, of Dover; and The Mad Hatter, played by Sam Szramka, 18, of Dover. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

In The Children’s Theatre production of “Alice in Wonderland,” Alice, played by Amanda Finney, right, 16, of Camden, attends a tea party with, from right, The March Hare, played by Carol Woolverton, 16, of Greensboro, Md.; The Dormouse, played by Jesse Rich, 10, of Dover; and The Mad Hatter, played by Sam Szramka, 18, of Dover. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER –– The Children’s Theatre Inc. is bringing Lewis Carroll’s classic fantasy book, “Alice in Wonderland,” to the stage at the Schwartz Center for the Arts this weekend.

The play is headed up by director Kathy Szramka and student director Riley Anne Evans, who also plays the role of the Duchess.

“‘Alice’ has always been one of my favorites,” Ms. Szramka said. “The characters, the storyline and goofiness are all great. It’s a play I knew the actors and audience would love.”

And all the actors are very enthusiastic about the performance and how different it is from the plays they’ve done in the past.

“It’s so much fun because a lot of it’s over the top so you can take your character to a level that you can’t in other performances,” said 18-year-old Sam Szramka of Caesar Rodney High School, who plays the Mad Hatter. “It’s more than just the acting that’s fun in this play; the story is so imaginative and really gets you thinking about things in a different way.”

Clockwise from top left, Alice, played by Amanda Finney, 16 of Camden; The Cook, played by Kaitlyn Clendaniel, 15, of Dover; The White Rabbit, played by Josiah Rich, 12, of Dover; The Duchess played by Riley Anne Evans, 17, of Dover; and The Cheshire Cat, played by Kayla Mercer, 12, of Magnolia. “Alice in Wonderland” will be staged at The Schwartz Center Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

Clockwise from top left, Alice, played by Amanda Finney, 16 of Camden; The Cook, played by Kaitlyn Clendaniel, 15, of Dover; The White Rabbit, played by Josiah Rich, 12, of Dover; The Duchess played by Riley Anne Evans, 17, of Dover; and The Cheshire Cat, played by Kayla Mercer, 12, of Magnolia. “Alice in Wonderland” will be staged at The Schwartz Center Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon.

The sets and costumes are imaginative too and are the product of many hours of hard work put in by the actors, their parents and volunteers.

Riley Anne, as student director, has played a large part in designing both.

“I love being here and I’m an artist too so I like painting the set and making costumes before and after rehearsal. It’s a good creative outlet for me,” she said.

Aside from set and costume design, the role of student director is a new and unfamiliar one for her.

“It’s been kind of weird because I’ve always been the one taking orders and now I’m giving them,” she said. “But it’s been cool to broaden my horizons because acting has always been my main focus.”

And throughout her years with the Children’s Theatre, she has gone as far as taking the stage days after surgery against her doctor’s advice and popping a stitch in the process.

She’s not the only one in an unfamiliar position. Ten-year-old Micah Glasser of Fifer Middle plays a huntsman.

“My sister and I are actually the same character so we have a relationship in the play like we do in real life except my character gets to boss her around a little, which is something I can’t do at home,” he said.

But although it’s fun to get bossy with 8-year-old Bella, he also gets to be a role model at the same time.

“I’ve been doing plays longer than her so I can give her some advice and she can look up to me,” he said.

“It’s fun to act with my brother,” Bella said. “I started acting because there’s a theater at my school (Campus Community) and Micah was already acting here so I started coming too. And this play is really fun because I get to be a huntsman with him.”

She said one of her favorite parts about acting with the Children’s Theatre is meeting all the other kids from different schools.

The Queen of Hearts played by Carly LePore, 13, of Dover, center, and her fearful husband, The King of Hearts, played by Logan Babenko, left, 11, of Clayton, entertain Alice, played by Amanda Finney, 16, of Camden and a huntsman played by Micah Glasser, 12, of Dover.

The Queen of Hearts played by Carly LePore, 13, of Dover, center, and her fearful husband, The King of Hearts, played by Logan Babenko, left, 11, of Clayton, entertain Alice, played by Amanda Finney, 16, of Camden and a huntsman played by Micah Glasser, 12, of Dover.

“It’s been fun working with kids of all different ages and from different schools the past few years,” said Amanda Finney who is playing the role of Alice. “It’s a lot of fun to see some of the kids that were really young when I started to grow up and become better actors with basically every show.”

Amanda only started acting a few years ago at Polytech High School. She took the class as an elective and didn’t plan on sticking with it, but theater teacher and Children’s Theatre director Sharon Crossen got her hooked.

“I just took theater as an elective and was going to do it for a semester but Mrs. Crossen was so passionate about it and kind of opened a window into the world of theater for me,” she said.

Now in her third year of acting, Amanda earned her first title role with “Alice.”

“There’s some pressure that comes with it, but like any other role, I just try to do my best,” she said. “And this role is a lot of fun because it’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ — the whole story is fun and interesting.”

The show will be a bittersweet performance for a handful of actors like Riley Anne and Sam, who will be taking the stage with the Children’s Theatre for the final time.

“I’ve been acting for most of my life; probably since I was about eight,” Sam said. “So it’s definitely sad that it’s my last performance with the Children’s Theater but I’m probably going to continue acting but leaving here is still kind of sad.”

Riley Ann plans on staying involved in theater too and might even get involved in the Children’s Theatre in different ways in the future.

“I’m confident that I could come back here or even go somewhere else to direct or be a part of the crew because there’s no age limit to do that,” she said. “And by working on plays for so long and being a student director, I’ve learned so much.”

“Alice in Wonderland” will be staged at the Schwartz Center Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $10 and available at the door. The Schwartz Center is at 226 S. State St., Dover.

Alice, played by Amanda Finney, 16, of Camden, has a word or two with The Caterpillar, played by Benjamin Brenner, 12, of Dover.

Alice, played by Amanda Finney, 16, of Camden, has a word or two with The Caterpillar, played by Benjamin Brenner, 12, of Dover.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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