Joaquin Miller Elementary Theater Arts Department presented the fourth-grade play Alice in Wonderland on Wednesday evening, December 3. They also put on two shows for the whole school on Thursday, December 4.
Supported by a grant from Burbank Arts For All Foundation and adapted by fourth grade teachers John Ossiff and Melissa Pamperin, Alice in Wonderland involved the entire fourth grade class in the production.
A cast of 29 students were chosen after tryouts in September. An orchestra of seven students and a stage crew of 15 students, who operated lights, sound and video and moved sets, were also created. An additional 40 students painted the scenery used in the play.
Pamperin and Ossiff combined elements of both Lewis Carroll books, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and added some songs and other elements, according to Ossiff.
“In this story, Alice and her friends are being bullied by her older sister,” explained Ossiff. “Alice follows the White Rabbit into Wonderland. There she meets some unique characters, defeats a Jabberwock and stands up to a Queen who bullies everyone around her into not singing.”
“When Alice returns, she has the strength to stand up to her sister and to inspire her friends to do the same,” he added.
The cast and crew rehearsed the play during lunch time since September, according to Ossiff who also said, “The cast and crew have been very dedicated in giving up their free time at lunch for this work.”
“Over the past few years we have been trying to develop and expand the Miller Theater Arts Program,” commented Ossiff. “For the past three or four years we have presented performances by both fourth and fifth grade classes.”
Last year, the school presented The Year Santa Took a Vacation and The Mystery of the Mysterious Missing Thing. In previous years, they have put on Robin Hood The Musical, M.A.D.D. Respect, So . . . You Wanna Be a Fairy Godmother?, A Christmas Carol, Peter Pan and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
“We have been fortunate to have parents with theater training and experience who have come in and provided voice, movement and acting training to the students,” said Ossiff.
“Our future goals are to expand the number of performances, including more performances by third grade classes, and to improve and permanently install lighting and sound equipment in our auditorium,” he continued. “Grants last year and this year from the Burbank Arts for All Program have been a great help.”
Porter Rodriguez, who played Alice, said, “The caterpillar was really cool. I especially liked my scene with the gnat in the train car. I liked talking with giant bugs.”
“Overall the cast did a great job in learning their lines,” he also said. “Both the cast and crew demonstrated great responsibility in presenting the play. All of the teachers here are very proud of them.”
Principal Judy Hession was also proud of the production. She pointed to Miller Elementary Theater Arts Department as a contributing element in the school’s recent California Distinguished School Exemplary Art recognition.