White Hill’s Alice in Wonderland arrives through the rabbit hole with colorful buoyancy


Corina Karr

Alice (Scout Lee) sitting at the Mad Hatter’s tea table and conversing on the concept of time.

Saturday evening, Dec. 4 at 7 pm, the “Spade” cast opened the White Hill Middle School (WHMS) production of Alice in Wonderland at the San Anselmo Playhouse. Performed completely by middle school students, and co-assistant directed by AWHS seniors Evan Pierce and Reese Warner, the play was fun and lighthearted, with impressive acting from young stars.  

Despite it being the cast’s opening night, Saturday was not the show’s first time on the San Anselmo Playhouse stage; the opposite cast, Diamond, performed Friday evening, Dec. 3, and Saturday, Dec. 4 in the afternoon. Yet, the Diamond cast has a completely different aura of actors, creating a different dynamic and performance altogether. The Playhouse was packed full of all ages ready to support and enjoy the performance.  

The actors were required to wear masks throughout the play due to COVID-19 prevention measures, which initially caused some concern that the young performer’s voices would not be clearly heard. However, the masks proved to be no problem as nearly every performer spoke clearly and with power.

All four Alice actresses (Esme Charles, Scout Lee, Carina Ridella, and Hanna Janson) twirling on the dreamlike stage in a ceremony to pass on the Alice role. (Corina Karr)

An interesting adaptation of the typical Alice in Wonderland performance is its shifting cast. In the show, there were four Alices (Esme Charles, Scout Lee, Carina Ridella, and Hanna Janson) and two Cheshire Cats (Graham Sethre and Emily Alonzo Romero). For the actress changes, the Alice actresses held hands in a dream-like setting and spun, as if the Alice personality was spinning into a new girl. As for the Cheshire Cat character, the actor simply switched to another actress during intermission. This creative adaptation is likely due to the large cast and short character list. 

The appearance change was a bit confusing, however, the program handed out at the door clearly stated that there were four Alices and two Cheshire cats. Therefore, it was not too difficult to keep track of the changes in actors. All four Alices and two Cheshire cats were distinctive and full of character..

The acting was impressive, especially considering that the actors were all between the ages of 11 and 14. The cast was female-dominated, with only a handful of boys. However, the lack of gender diversity was barely noticeable as half of the roles were animals or objects such as cards.

The setting and props, all set up by Kid Tech, were fun and bright, often oversized to a comical largeness, further adding to the whimsical effect of Wonderland. Complete with talking flowers and a kitchen with not-so-life-sized items, the visuals are sure to put a smile on viewers’ faces.

Alice (Esme Charles) conversing with the Cheshire Cat (Graham Sethre) in the play Alice in Wonderland’s opening scene. (Corina Karr)

The Customers, a group of fashion-inclined middle schoolers, helped out with styling and crafting parts of the costumes. In previous years, all this had been done by parent volunteers. The middle schoolers’ creative involvement provides a refreshing breath of youth to the production. 

Just as years passed, WHMS put on a delightful and innocent performance that left crowds laughing and clapping with every snappy joke spouted. The Spade cast’s final performance was Sunday, Dec. 5, and was sure to put a smile on the next crowd’s face.