Centereach High School’s Alice in Wonderland Drama Production

Alice: Behind The Scenes

Written By Gabrielle Lloyd and Co-written by Alex Villegas

“If you’re not in theater, do it and if you’re in theater, stay doing it because it is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life.” 

– Julia Ferrara, Grade 12

We all know the tale of Alice in Wonderland: A young woman falls down a rabbit hole and and after meeting some crazy characters, she learns that despite risks being scary, not taking them can be scarier. But what about the people who brought the wonderful production to Centereach High School? What is their story? Luckily enough, the CHS Newspaper has got all of the juicy behind the scenes details from the show!

More often than not, the actors of a drama production are further recognized for their performance and hard work. It happens in school plays and even as far as Broadway. Although their performances are always stellar, they would not be there without a dedicated stage and lighting crew. So we took the liberty of asking them for a few personal quotes! The stage crew didn’t really have much to say (I guess they were too busy setting up for the spectacular Alice :)) Despite not being able to get much intell on the stage crew, the sheer whimsicalness told us all we needed to know. The environment surrounding the crew was very cheerful and fun loving, which is crucial to the world of drama. 
Next we took our queries to the lighting crew. The crew wished to all be anonymous, so here are a few sayings from them: “Hey, I’m in lighting and it’s super fun”, ”Yeah I’m in lighting and it’s really cool”. The majority of the crew could only account for just how enjoyable and lively being a part of lighting is. Similar to the stage crew, the environment was always spirited, and there was never a dull moment! After taking those lighthearted quotes, we decided to conduct a full scale interview on the lighting manager, senior Payton Lancer. Upon asking about what she does as manager, she informed us that she was in charge of creating and directing light ques as well as the spotlights. And of course, there is no such thing as performance without some type of malfunction. “During the show, we had lights not cooperating with us, but we fixed it. Then our questions (ques) didn’t save, but we fixed that too! And at one point, we had no more spotlight builds and only one working spotlight, but of course, we were able to fix that as well”. Wow! Usually we hear about heels breaking or performer’s mics not working. There’s a whole lot more going on behind the scenes that the audience never hears about or most likely don’t even notice. And that’s in all likelihood due to the excellent problem-solving skills of the crew. What would we do without them? Lancer’s final quote was directed to the entirety of the drama club, and that was “To just get some sleep”, and with all that frolicking, I would say the same. (If you want to read more about the stage crew, check out William Mercado’s review!)

And of course, the person behind it all, Centereach High School’s beloved English teacher, Mrs. Duryea. As we all know, Mrs. Duryea is the mastermind behind all the school’s Drama productions, slaving away every year to make each more remarkable than the previous. We began by asking the reasoning for choosing this piece, especially after such a long production break. She told us that she had actually done the play nine years ago, when she had first taken the program over. After being away due to the pandemic, she felt the need for familiarity. CHS newspaper couldn’t agree more. Alice in Wonderland gives off a sense of friendliness and comfortability that I’m sure the entire school needed after the previous off-centered years. Finally being able to come together and enjoy Centereach’s rendition of a tale we all know and love was the perfect way to reinstate yearly drama performances. We then asked what she liked about working with the crew to which she jokingly responded with “You’re asking me today? The day I hate everybody?” With a laugh, she expressed her love for these kinds of kids. “I was a theater major myself. So I enjoy the plays and I enjoy seeing their enthusiasm. There are some kids who aren’t sports oriented or academically inclined. Even my crew, from building to painting to cleaning the stage, they’re all wonderful”. With this information, it is clear that no one is more fit for the Director’s job than Mrs. Duryea. There are way too many people whose hearts aren’t into the activities they allocate their time to, but the same couldn’t be said for Mrs. Duryea. Her continuous work and devotion over the years is a true testament to how she feels about Centereach High School, along with its community, and we couldn’t be more grateful. 

And last, but definitely not least, the actors! Similar to all the crews on board, the actor’s time on set was animated and energetic. First, we got a few segments from the Tweedle Dee and Dum played by Emily Strange and Natalie Godinez. “I like how they are aloof, like they have nothing to do at all”, referring to the identical twins. “I like that they are always so happy ‘go lucky’ and have no clue what’s going on but they go along with it anyways”. Yep, that sounds like them alright, playful and jolly. 

This year, White Rabbit was played by freshman Addison Kirk. When we asked her about what she loved most about the character, she told us that “[She got] to tap into so many emotions, nervous, anxious, excited, happy, sad. [She] was able to play every kind of emotion that [She] would have wanted to play which was really important to [her] when continuing an acting career.” Next we asked her if there was anything she was worried about before the performance. “I was really anxious because I was opening and I am a freshman and it’s my first time ever doing a show’s opening.” From an outsider’s point of view, the opening scene couldn’t have been better. Addison Kirk was a great addition to Centereach’s Drama Club and we look forward to seeing her in future productions! 

We next interviewed the White Queen, played by Aurora Quick. She told us that her favorite part about her character was that “She [looked] up to her sister a lot throughout the play, which was kind of cute”. The people you admire definitely influence you one way or another. Though the antagonists, Iracebeth of Crims, also known as the Red Queen, certainly had some quirks about her that were aspirational. That being said, I’m sure everyone has looked up to a villain at some point! 

Our last and final rundown of the play’s behind the scenes action came from  the star, Alice, played by senior, Julia Ferrara. By this time, Julia had already done one performance of the play. “Opening night actually went better than I thought it would. I was really nervous because the dress rehearsals were kinda iffy but then the performances turned out amazing”. And even more so with night two! With the mix of jitters and excitement and adrenaline, the actors as well as the stage crew were able to make their rendition of Alice sensational. 

We are definitely looking forward to the next Centereach production, so stay tuned!