Worlds collide in ‘Dorothy Meets Alice’

By: Don Chaddock Telegraph Managing Editor
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The fanciful realm between sleep and dreams is where “Dorothy Meets Alice, or, The Wizard of Wonderland” takes audiences. The play is the latest offering in Sutter Street Theatre’s Young People’s Series. The production runs at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through June 12 at the theater, 717 Sutter St., Folsom. Directed by Mike Jimena with choreography by Connie Mockenhaupt, the show stars a cast of a dozen ranging in age from 10 to “late 60s,” according to show organizers. Jimena also designed the set, which is split into three zones — Wonderland, Oz and the Tulgey Wood. Lighting and effects are well done in this production, which sometimes features as many as the full dozen characters on the intimate stage at the same time. The story centers on Judson (Ben Helms) who has a book report due the next day. He didn’t read a book, so tried watching a movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” but was shutdown by his father before he could finish the film. So, grabbing he climbed under his covers with a flashlight to read, “Alice in Wonderland,” but ended up falling asleep — and finds himself in a land populated by characters from each story. The White Rabbit (Emily Parker) rushes by, chased by Alice (Clair Williams). Meanwhile, Dorothy (Olivia Lawrence) wanders about calling for her dog, Toto. That sets the stage for two worlds to collide — and two villains to try to get their hands on Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Alice’s shrinking potion. By far, the standouts are Christopher Celestin, 16, as Lion, Shelli Smithers as Scarecrow and Monique Lonergon, 10, as Dormouse. These three added some real spice to this top-notch cast. All are regulars at Sutter Street Theatre. Celestin is given the freedom to pay homage to the traditional Cowardly Lion role while giving it some of his own spin. Smithers is simply amazing as the loose-limbed Scarecrow. Monique, as the youngest of the actors, gives a great performance as the tough-talking mouse. The well-rounded cast gives young Brady Tait (Mad Hatter), 16, a chance to get zany. This isn’t the first time he’s donned an oversize hat. He played Mad Hatter during last year’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.” The two young ladies — Williams and Lawrence — are perfectly cast as the title characters. They bring the two storybook characters to life. Lawrence makes her Sutter Street Theatre debut in this show and is a freshman at Rocklin High School. Williams is a freshman at Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks and takes dance and vocal lessons at Hawkins School of Dance. Ben Helms attends Wilson C. Riles Middle School in Roseville and this show marks his third time gracing the Sutter Street stage. Tyle Fagan, as Tin Man, also makes his Sutter Street Theatre debut and certainly doesn’t put in a wooden performance. Parker’s White Rabbit is energetic and well done. She’s a student at Folsom High School. Hailey Fitzpatrick, 11 and a student at Folsom Middle School, does a great job as a flying monkey and one of the Queen of Hearts’ henchmen. Two adults in the show are Eileen Beaver as the Wicked Witch and Mockenhaupt as the Queen of Hearts. Beaver has been performing around the Sacramento area for 20 years and Mockenhaupt is well known in local theatrical circles, having garnered several Elly nominations and awards. In all, I recommend seeing “Dorothy Meets Alice” before the show disappears. * * * THE CAST Ben Helms Emily Parker Olivia Lawrence Clair Williams Brady Tait Tyler Fagan Shelli Smithers Christopher Celestin Monique Lonergon Hailey Fitzpatrick Eileen Beaver Connie Mockenhaupt * * * KNOW AND GO What: “Dorothy Meets Alice, or, The Wizard of Wonderland” When: 1 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, through June 12 Where: Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter St., Folsom Cost: $17 for general, $15 for seniors, $13 for children Information: (916) 353-1001, Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars