The Actor’s Playground back, staging ‘Dorothy Meets Alice’

The Actor’s Playground back, staging ‘Dorothy Meets Alice’

Image Credit: Submitted

The last time the crew from The Actor’s Playground put on a production more than four years ago, they thought it would be their last.

However, the perfect storm of people coming home and timing created an opportunity for the production team to get the band back together for an encore presentation.

“We’re back, after thinking we might never do shows again because we all moved,” said TAP creator Chloe Torrence, who along with the rest of her collaborators moved out of the area.

However, when Jaylen Miller came in from Indiana and Torrence came in from Pennsylvania, a window of opportunity arose that allowed them to get the team back together.

In capturing this moment to return together to the stage, the TAP directors selected a children’s stage production called “Dorothy Meets Alice.”

However, rather than play it by the book, the directors chose to add their own flair to the production, and the result was a family-friendly musical that speaks to all ages.

The 90-minute show will take place in The Ravine outdoor amphitheater at Martin’s Creek Mennonite Church Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 1-3, with evening productions beginning at 7 p.m. all three nights and a Saturday matinee performance at 2:30 p.m.

“This is a lot smaller scale than what we usually produce, with a cast size of only 12 compared to usually having about a cast of 50,” Torrence said. “It’s been a very unique, cool process because we’re working outdoors, and we’ve been able to put our own twist on some beloved characters that everyone knows.”

Torrence said the main reason the crew wanted to create this musical was to create something special for the community while giving the actors a chance to perform.

“Being back together and working to create again has been so rewarding for all of us,” Torrence said. “The immediate response of ‘yes’ by our whole team when I reached out to them with this idea was so exciting. Nobody hesitated.”

She said one concern was finding actors to play roles in a short period of time. That all came together, and the cast is made up of former TAP personalities who are in tune with everything the directorial team wants to produce.

“It feels so neat to support them,” Torrence said. “It’s been several years since we’ve worked with the cast members, and this is really the first time we opened auditions to adults. I think their presence has opened doors to creativity because of their life experience.”

The directorial team consists of Director Torrence, choreographer Miller, musical director Trey Hawkins and scene designer Sarah Kitzmiller. The role of Jules will be played by Rylin Miller, Noraa Hazlett will be Dorothy, Alice will be played by Chloe Keim, with Lyla Mullet, Denice Hazlett, Michael Yoder, Cozette Torrence, Sam Torrence, Tristen Houser, Kate Troyer, Zoe Rubio and Shane Byler playing a host of characters from both worlds.

Torrence said the play is written for middle school age, but the challenge of expanding it and creating something that was engrossing for all ages was enjoyable. She said the crux of the musical centers around a main character, Jules, and evolves around developing teamwork, a concept that held true not only for the theme, but also for the team putting it together.

In the musical Jules is trying to write a book report but forgot to read the book, so she watches “Alice in Wonderland” and tries to write her report from that experience. However, she falls asleep, awakens in woodland outside of Oz and experiences a host of characters that intertwine both worlds and include other characters.

“It has morphed into something magical and mystical that’s fun for the whole family, and it will be a treat unlike anything people have seen us produce over the years, and I’m pretty sure it’s nothing like people have seen in general. It’s going to be a deep, immersive experience.”

Tickets for “Dorothy Meets Alice” are $12 and are available at Torrence said there are three types of seating in the amphitheater including the stone benches, the Oz seating area in which chairs will be provided for patrons on level ground (which she said is good for elderly and handicapped access), and people also can bring lawn chairs to create their own seating.

Tickets also will be available the day of production, but Torrence said at a smaller venue, they hope to sell out online.

As for ongoing TAP productions, Torrence said with busy schedules and lives outside of this area, it is difficult to say when The Actor’s Playground will unite again. She simply said they are leaving the possibilities open, and they can dream about the possibilities, much like Dorothy and Alice did.

“The last team, we all knew we were leaving. We thought it was the last hurrah, but we aren’t making any judgements on when we might collaborate again,” Torrence said. “Hopefully, a time will come when we can do this again, and we will let the wind take us where it will.”