An adventure in wonderland

Photo by Ann Gill
TIME FOR TEA—Alice [McKenna Patten] joins the March Hare [Stephen Byers] and the Mad Hatter [Landen Selio] for a spot of tea in the school’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.”

Ann Gill

As the winds blow through the park, the catalpa tree twists a little more, much like the story about to be told under it branches.
The century old trees that line Carbon Hill Park provide the perfect backdrop for a story that finds a curious young girl following a well dressed white rabbit down a hole—as if only in a dream.
Based on the story telling of Lewis Carroll’s children’s novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” the Coal City Theatre Department will present its adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland,” this weekend.
Constructed around the park’s meaningful catalpas is a stage set to mimic the concept of the well know tea party hosted by the Mad Hatter.
Senior McKenna Patten, who grew up not far from the park, will take the stage as Alice who’s unexpected adventure to wonderland finds her looking for the one who stole the queens’ sugar tarts.
Along the way she comes to meet some interesting characters—the blue caterpillar, March Hare, Duchess and the bubbly Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
And, then there is the Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter and the dominating Queen of Hearts, who truly is the queen of the young girls conflict.
Throughout her time in wonderland, Alice finds herself learning new things, playing a rather interesting version of croquet and ultimately heading into court as the group comes to find out who really stole the queen’s heart shaped tarts.
The show, directed by Jack Micetich, is a visual stunning with its mostly monochromatic set and costumes.
From the twinkle lights and seaglass bottles that hang from the branches above, audiences will truly be transformed into a world away from where they really are.
This will be the theatre department’s third full scale outdoor production. Micetich making the decision to once again take the fall play on the road due to pandemic mitigations.
Carbon Hill Park provided the perfect setting and the town board welcomed the theatre department with open arms.
One commissioner even suggesting this become an annual event in the village.
As with any outdoor production it takes a bit more planning and executing that simply walking into an auditorium space where lighting fixtures can simply be adjusted and turned on, where students have access to designated dressing rooms and the weather—wind, rain and temperature —is not an issue.
Producing a show in a remote location means miles and miles of power cords, alternate power sources, constructing a stage from scratch and trying to remember to bring the right screws and drill bits necessary to secure the stage trusses and panels.
As Micetich will tell you, “it’s an adventure.” Despite the added work and unknowns that come with putting on a production without a roof over ones head, its a process that the director, cast and crew have come to perfect in a pandemic world.
By taking the show outdoors it allows the cast to perform without the utilization of face coverings, and in theatre one of the highlights is being able to see the actors facial expressions as they tell the story.
This particular story of “Alice in Wonderland,” opens at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 14 and continues Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. in the park located at 800 Lacy St., in Carbon Hill.
General admission tickets are $5 per person and can be obtained in advance at or at the gate starting one hour prior to each scheduled performance.
Those attending are reminded to bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating and to dress appropriately for the weather.
Since this is an outdoor venue masks are not required, however due to current statewide mitigations face coverings must be worn inside village buildings.
To enhance the experience, the theatre department has teamed up with some local vendors who will be set up in the park with sandwiches and other snacks, and for those who enjoy a good burger from the park’s food stand you will forsure want to make a visit to the park on Saturday night.
Don’t be late, get your tickets and head over Carbon Hill’s wonderful park this weekend.
Micetich and his team are waiting for you under the catalpa trees where the 26 member cast and crew will take you on a bit of an adventure.

McKenna Patten
Eli Fritz
Derek Carlson
Landen Selio
Stephen Byers
Emma Kenney
Collin Dames
Dylan Ludes
Shana Kelly
Jake Zickefoose
Izzy Kostbade
Caleb Kuhel
Brecken Johnson
Elaina Patten
Ava Houston
Skyler Milinkovic
Chloe Peacock
Colin Leroy
Ethan Scrogham
Logan Hausman
Kylee Kennell
Melody Kinder
Mason Natyshok

Chad Reinhart
Max Hone