By Diane Glidewell
Patrons had the opportunity to step into the wacky world of Wonderland for a couple of hours right here in Jackson courtesy of Butts County Community Theatre, 27 young actors, and a dedicated crew of adult volunteers. The 2010 Youth production of the Butts County Community Theater was Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr. and its production dates were Thursday, Friday, and Saturday March 19, 20, and 21.
The actors ranged in age from four to 14 and they exhibited polished stage presence as well as musical and acting abilities in an adaptation of the classic arranged in a fast-paced version aimed at young performers with updated dialogue and songs in keys appropriate to young voices.
"Everyone did a wonderful job," said Director Amber Bunn shortly after the last curtain call on Sunday afternoon. "It was perfect; they didn't miss a beat."
Alice in Wonderland Jr. was Ms. Bunn's first experience directing a children's play and her first experience directing in Butts County. She completed a degree in PerformanceTheatre at Valdosta State University and has delivered award winning performances in several productions herself. Her family moved to Butts County about five years ago, and she decided to join them here last summer.
Characters included a Medium Alice (Jordan Goolsby), Small Alice (Madison Speir), and Tall Alice (Nayshon Woods) as well as Cheshire Cats #1, #2, and #3 (Megan Conley, Jayci Fitzmayer, Molly Parson) and, of course, the March Hare (Karsin Mya Bass), the Caterpillar (Haylee Goolsby), and the Mad Hatter (Anthony Pacchioli).
Other actors were Josie Anderson, Kember Cole, Jaydan Lexi English, Conner Green, Destiny Jones, Chrislenn Kight, Lacey Little, Sara Lynn, Ella Noonan, Sidney Pace, Dalton Richardson, Elena Richardson, Emily Rogers, Jenna Rogers, Sara Rogers, Madelyn Storey, Raymond Stunkel, and Kaylee Townsend.
They answered the call to audition last September and began practicing last October to create the special experience for the audience which they achieved.
About 20 parents plus the Community Theatre Board of Directors worked to construct the costumes and sets. Doug Tingle was responsible for the lighting, and Ryan Rigsby handled sound. A bubble machine during the Caterpillar's scene added a special whimsical touch. Nick Malone added his talents as Assistant Director; he has an impressive list of acting credits in film, theater, and other productions and is a new addition to Butts County.
Producer Christy Goolsby initially agreed to direct Alice in Wonderland Jr. and Amber Bunn was welcomed as Choreographer when she offered her talents and time. When Ms. Goolsby found the demands of a new job making it difficult for her to continue as director, Ms. Bunn picked up the reins in January and Mr. Malone became involved with the children's production at about the same time.
"Working with kids has truly changed my life. It's where the magic is," said Director Bunn. "I almost cried every night. I saw the children grow; Fine Arts brings them compassion, creativity, and confidence. Everyone is part of the team."
Other individuals who made special contributions to the production included Sandra Pacchioli, Juanita Stewart, Ryan Nelson, Paul Pacchioli, Jay Kennedy, Tony Goolsby, and Vickie Jones. It takes a lot of people to put on a successful play; it takes a lot of work to make it all look so easy on performance night.
The Butts County Community Theatre will begin work on a dinner theatre production with auditions for adults on April 13, 15, and 17. It will also collaborate with the Butts County Parks & Recreation Department on the Summer Art Series.
The series will offer a variety of sessions in visual arts, performing arts, and creative writing/storytelling. This program is supported in part by the Grassroots Program of the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly.