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Alice's adventures hit Southmoreland High School stage

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Alice meets Tweedledee and Tweedledum in a scene from Southmoreland High School's upcoming production of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.' The show will be performed this Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Pictured from left to right, Tweedledee, played by Joe Crawford, 17, of Mt. Pleasant, Tweedledum played by Sage Gwynn, 15, of Scottdale and Alice played by Tara Ritz, 16, of Mt. Pleasant.

When offering options for this year's play at Southmoreland High School, one seemed to generate more enthusiasm than the others — “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.”

“We had a list of five or six potential plays,” said Ariel Byers, director. “When I read the names of the plays, I saved that for last because I figured that would be the crowd pleaser. They were so excited it didn't take much convincing.”

Alice's adventures will be coming to the Southmoreland High School auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

The play tells the story of a girl named Alice, who falls down a rabbit hole and encounters some interesting characters.

“It's more of a take on the original movie,” Byers explained. “We cast it beginning in January and have been working on it ever since. It's an interesting show with some crazy characters and a lot of magical costumes. We try to bring in some audience involvement so there will be times audience (members) will be pulled on stage. I'm excited for the results of it.”

The lead role of Alice will be handled by junior Tara Ritz, whom impressed Byers somewhat instantly.

“Immediately upon seeing her, we knew she was the one to bring Alice to life,” Byers said of Ritz. “She has amazing spunk and just commands the stage. We knew she was what we needed from the Alice character because you're following her the whole time. We were excited she was there. She's doing a wonderful job.

The play is a bit different than those which may have taken place in the past at Southmoreland. Those may have featured about 12-15 characters. This is a 30-member play.

Other key roles will be handled by senior Maddy Nelson as the Queen of Hearts, senior Tasha Johnson as the Mad hatter and junior Alyssa Johnson as a door mouse.

Byers was an adviser for last year's play “Puss in Boots,” but the 2007 Southmoreland graduate has stepped into the role of director this year.

“I had been a member of the drama department,” she recalled from her days as a student. “Everything was very small. I wanted to go back and build up the program.”

Also returning this year is Leia Roberts in the roles of makeup artist and costume designer.

“She's very, very talented,” Byers said of Roberts. “We have some very unique sets. Every single costume has to be big and special and unique. She really took on a lot, putting all those pieces into place.”

Tickets for the show are available at all of the district's schools. The price is $7 for adults and $5 for students. Reserved seating is available at the email address Ice cream sundaes and root beer floats will be available during intermission.

As the time for the curtain to rise draws near, Byers is pleased with preparations for the show.

“The curtain will rise Friday no matter what we do,” she said. “I've been doing this for a long time, and this is the most prepared I've ever felt for a show. ... We're good to go.”

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or