Costuming begins for new production of ‘Alice in Wonderland’

Take a look at the fun the Metro Dancers and actors have, as they try on costumes for their April show at Montavilla’s Portland Metro Performing Arts Center

Eighth-graders Rebecca Tew from Floyd Light Middle School and Shania  Carver-Bruce from DaVinci Middle School see how they look as “Tweedles”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Amid the hours of dance practice, and acting rehearsals, the cast and crew of Metro Dancers upcoming production of “Alice in Wonderland” took a break to check out the stage attire they’ll be wearing in April, and we were there.

“Because we’ve presented it over the years, it is one of our ‘signature’ shows,” said Nancy Yeamans, Artistic Director of Metro Dancers at Portland Metro Performing Arts (PMPA).

“We present the show as a ballet,” Yeamans added; “The audience loves it, and the cast members have a great time performing in it.”

7th grader Nailah Cunningham, who is home-schooled and here dressed as Humpty Dumpty, helps Laurelhurst School 7th grader Zofia Mathews get dressed as the Cheshire Cat.

Nancy Yeamans helps “Princess Pansy” Emma Mullen, a Portland Christian Schools 7th grader, get her petals properly placed.

Len Mills, who has performed and mentored with PMPA since 1986, smiled, as he watched the cast try on the colorful costumes.

“I’ve been in all of our productions of Alice, since that time. In the first show, I played the White Rabbit. Now, I typically have two roles – Alice’s father, and the Mad Hatter.

The best thing about the show, Mills mused, “It stimulates the imagination. And, there are really no ‘stars’ in the show, so there’s tremendous sense of camaraderie among the cast members. Because it’s an ensemble show, it isn’t a place for big egos – but it is a place for a lot of creativity.”

A rehearsal room becomes the scene of a wild costume party, when cast members try on outfits created for this production of Alice.

That creativity is required of cast members, Mills explained, because “Everyone creates little vignettes, whether they’re a ‘Noble Card’, or a flower, or a chess piece. Each performer must create their character so that it ‘comes alive’ on stage.”

As Yeamans pointed out, cast members are challenged to create multiple characters, because each person plays at least two – and some as many as five – different roles. “We sometimes rehearse the costume changes as much as the dance numbers; the dressing room backstage is a wild place during the show.”

The “March Hare” (Stefani Strodtbeck) helps “Alice” (Amalia Mathews) make sure the “White Rabbit” (Kate Rafter) isn’t “late, late,for a very important date”.

“We hope people will come and bring their families to the fantastical journey into Wonderland,” Yeamans enthused.

East Portland’s Metro Dancers’ Alice in Wonderland comes to Downtown Portland’s Newmark Theatre April 14-16. To learn more about the show, or Portland Metro Performing Arts (at 9003 SE Stark Street), see their website: CLICK HERE.

Ninth-grade homeschooler “Bee” Nayomi Cunningham looks on, as an 8th grader from All Saints’, Rhaine Levesque, adjusts the “Alice” costume worn by Payton Schiffer, a 5th grader at Arthur Academy – while bemused Lobster Sydney Williams, a 7th grader from DeVince Arts Middle School, considers how she’d play a giant crustacean.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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