‘Wonderland’ comes to town

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — Creative costumes, a classic storyline and recognizable songs converge in Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland, Jr.” opening Friday, March 8, at 7 p.m. at the Center Theatre and continuing for six shows until March 16.

    The fast-paced, hour-long musical sponsored by Pleasant River Lumber of Dover-Foxcroft is a stage adaptation of the 1951 Disney film version of the popular children’s novel by Lewis Carroll. Opening night features a soirée with desserts and tea and punch.
    Audiences will also be treated to a special warm-up act: seven-year-old Elora Kares of Dover-Foxcroft singing the Latin classic “Panis Angelicus.”
    Ben Layman of Hampden, who is an actor and teaching artist with The Penobscot Theatre, makes his directorial debut at Center Theatre at the invitation of Center Theatre Executive Director Angela Bonacasa for his “great deal of experience and love of working with kids.”
    Forty eight kids — the largest cast for a youth production in Center Theatre history — portray a host of characters, including three versions of Alice (small, medium and tall), the White Rabbit, Tweedles, Caterpillar, Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts and others.
    They have spent the last five weeks learning choreography, singing, acting, and learning how to work with other kids both on and off stage. “We’ve asked a lot of them,” says Bonacasa, “and they have risen to the occasion. These kids have all been great.”
    Overseeing a cast this size represents an “incredible effort” on the part of Layman and stage manager Andrea Littlefield of Hermon, says Bonacasa. Littlefield, an actress, has done shows with Ten Bucks Theatre in Brewer, UMaine and other community theatres in the Bangor area. The two have commuted together for this production.
    The set design is by Tricia Hobbs, a native of East Millinocket who grew up in Dexter. She is a student at UMaine with a professional career as a set designer and scenic charge artist, who is expanding her work to include productions in Chicago. She did Center Theatre’s set design last December for “Miracle on 34th Street.” Hobbs’ “incredible gift”, according to Bonacasa, is her ability to create a world for the kids to play in while keeping it simple.
    Lighting design is by Scout Hough, who is graduating from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a bachelor’s degree in lighting design. She did lights for Miracle and worked with Hobbs at the professional summer stock theatre Maples Repertory Theatre in Macon, Mo.
    Rhonda Kirkpatrick of Dover-Foxcroft designed the costumes for all three Alices as well as the Queen of Hearts. Creation of many of the other costumes for the 48 kids, with half of them playing more than one role, have been a “real group effort” by other members of the community, including parents of cast members and Center Theatre board members.
For every one of the kids, there have been parents who have patiently adapted to changes in rehearsal dates, times and locations, including cancellations due to weather, observes Bonacasa. There have been parents who have been incredibly generous with their time and effort to work towards this goal.
    The production will also be performed for roughly 900 schoolchildren from local schools who will be bussed to the Center Theatre on March 13. Bonacasa hopes kids will be inspired to become involved in Center Theatre youth productions in the future, and encourages kids interested in improving their skills to sign up for one of the Center Theatre’s summer drama camps.
    General admission tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance, with discounted rates for theatre members and seniors. The shows are March 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 7 p.m. and March 10 and 16 at 2 p.m.  Tickets may be purchased online any time at or Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and one hour before show time over the phone (564-8943) or in person at the box office at 20 East Main Street.  More information is available at

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