CFHS Students Shine in “Alice in Wonderland”


Last night, Chagrin Falls High School debuted its production of “Alice and Wonderland,” adapted for the stage from Lewis Carroll’s novel, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” The novel tells the story of a young girl who falls down a rabbit hole, finding herself in an entirely new and strange world. Throughout her travels, Alice meets many memorable characters like the White Queen, the Queen of Hearts, and of course, the Mad Hatter.

“I selected Alice because I felt it had an educational aspect to it as well as an abundance of characters,” explained director Dusten Welch. “I didn’t know many of the students involved, so this was something where I knew I could pull a lot of guys or girls to be different characters, as well as it had several strong female roles.”

Mr. Welch teaches at the Performing Arts Academy, directing and helping with choreography, among other things.

When asked what is most difficult about directing a play, he responded, “Every play is different; it’s like a symphony. You know, you come in and you are working with different actors, and artists, different backgrounds and skill levels, and you have to figure out how people work. As director, my job is to look at both big and little pictures. Actors must do their part and [the director] must conduct, figuring out how each actor works.”

Although participating in the play requires quite a bit of commitment, this year, over 30 students participated in some way, with some performing and others helping out behind the scenes as crew members. Senior Mary Baldwin has worked as a crew member since her sophomore year and was stage manager for “Alice in Wonderland.”

“Sophomore year, I did crew just to get involved because I love theater,” Baldwin said. “But it was the community and the people I met who made me want to keep coming back and keep doing crew. I wanted to be more involved, so I looked into stage managing.”

As stage manager, Baldwin makes sure that the crew has everything they need to ensure that the play runs smoothly. She also supervises the technical aspects of the production, like sound and light cues.

“I like crew because we are the people that make the show happen,” Baldwin continued. “We are able to showcase the amazing work the cast puts in.”

In fact, according to Baldwin, cast and crew rehearsed Monday through Thursday from six to nine o’clock. On Saturdays, crew members built sets, and this past Wednesday, the entire production had a seven-hour dress rehearsal. Regardless of the time commitment, Baldwin had enjoyed every minute of her “Alice in Wonderland” commitment.  

Mr. Welch feels that all students have something to gain by participating in theater, regardless of their experience.

“I think that in many educational settings, the arts are undernourished, and I think that theater in general is an excellent outlet for collaborating creatively. I think it’s unique. When you paint a picture, sculpt a sculpture, you don’t have to collaborate. You’re the sole artists. When you’re putting together a show, you are collaborating; you have to work with others alongside them. Your own creativity can’t come at expense of someone else’s.”

In addition to being a fabulous production, “Alice in Wonderland” is indicative of theater’s power to unite people to pursue a common goal.

Baldwin agrees, stating, “Making sure a play runs smoothly starts with all of us being one cohesive group and everyone putting in 100%. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true because it takes all of us to put on a great show.”