CRESTVIEW — Northwood Elementary and Richbourg E.S.E. School students have learned that literature lessons can be fun. Atlantic Coast Theatre for Youth members on Wednesday brought their rock musical adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" to Crestview.
"This (was) our first school-wide performance," Northwood and Richbourg Assistant Principal Barry Blackburn said, noting professional artists’ performances expose students to "real world" arts. Northwood was designated an arts and sciences academy several years ago and formally accepted the role with this school year.
Orlando-based A.C.T. actors and producers Don Gruel and his wife, Noel Holland, adapted the story, wrote the score and performed the adaptation. "Kids are inundated with TV and movies and video games," Holland said. "This gives them the idea that live theater — plays — are fun." Adapting a classic book like "Alice" for the stage also allows students to tie literature with a fun, live entertainment, Gruel said.
Some students prepared for the show, with first-graders making Cheshire masks in honor of the perpetually grinning Cheshire cat, a character in the book and musical.
Kids took part in the performance, with fourth-grader Sydney Faulk and first-grader Ethan Milonas selected from the audience to play the March Hare and Dormouse, respectively. Sydney, Ethan and their classmates danced during the Mad Tea Party scene to a tune called "The Mad-Hatterena," a take-off on the Los Del Rio line dance, "La Macarena."
Students also learned a bit of the German "Chicken Dance" folk dance, and then learned the "Lobster Quadrille” — essential for a visit with the Queen of Hearts who, when displeased, delighted the audience with her periodic command, "Off with his head."
The show concluded with a lesson in reading: "When you read a story, it's like being in the middle of it, feeling what the characters feel and sharing their adventures," Alice said.
Students said they enjoyed the performance, which Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation sponsored, along with one in Destin.
"I liked it when she was reading the book and fell down the hole," second-grader Cortavion Carter said.
Contact News Bulletin Arts & Entertainment Editor Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.