If there was ever any doubt that Cedar Springs High School has talent in the dramatic arts, those doubts were erased after three superb stage performances of Alice in Wonderland last weekend. And record crowds came out to see it.
“We experienced some of the biggest crowds ever at CSHS,” said drama teacher Justin Harnden, who produced and directed the play. “Over 1,350 people came and saw the show, and that doesn’t include the 500 students and staff from Beach Elementary that saw the show on Friday morning.”
The show had standout performances from many of the cast members, many of them first time actors. “The cast did a great job with the show,” remarked Harnden. “They took on their roles with a great intensity and really displayed their character for all to see. They were in character all the time. From before the show to after curtain call every student put their all into it.”
A total of 70 students worked on the show.
The show starred seniors Jenna Johnson as Alice, and Steven Reed as the Cheshire Cat. Johnson had us believing she really was an 8-year-old girl in Wonderland trying to get home for her birthday party, and Reed nailed his role as the “now you see him now you don’t” ever grinning “watch cat.” The two worked great together, and you could feel the emotional intensity in the air when they said their final goodbye.
Seniors Nick Day and Tyler Felty were perfectly cast as the two mad friends the Mad Hatter and March Hare. The tea party scene was a joy to watch and full of surprises—including the Hatter walking on the table and the Hare rolling across it.
Senior Justin Balczak was a big hit as Humpty Dumpty, as was senior Miles Johnson as the cook. Senior Joe Brunett and junior Cole Maike grabbed the audience with the antics of Tweedle dum and Tweedle dee, and seniors Emily Marckini and Kodi Baker were great as the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon. Baker’s movements and facial expressions were spot on. Senior Amber Mogg made it easy to hate the Queen of hearts, senior Brittany Bellamy was superior as the moral telling duchess, and senior Jared Kelley was funny as the frog. Junior Tinsley Nulph was great as the energetic and ever loyal White Rabbit, sophomore Steven Kern did a great job as the omniscient caterpillar, and Paul Flores was also good as the King of Hearts, while everyone was scared of Nathan Eades, the executioner. There were many other characters in the play that brought laughs and fun, including the flowers, the Queen’s ladies, and the King’s soldiers. Everyone involved gave stellar performances.
“The students had a great time with the show and that really shone through on stage,” said Harnden.
The show was not as serious or the plot as straight-forward as some of the shows Harnden has produced, but he is very proud of it, nonetheless.
“The show was definitely a different experience to direct, but when it all was over I was, and am, extremely proud of everything that we have done,” noted Harnden. “There is no doubt in my mind that we were able to entertain a great number of people during our 3 performance nights. “