Shelby School Performers Learn Teamwork

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Alice is going to Rodeoland in the first play students of the Shelby Charter School are presenting to the public.

"Alice in Rodeoland" is different from the Lewis Carroll story, "Alice in Wonderland."

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Joseph Farris leads the centipede in the Shelby School's production of Alice in Rodeoland. The students will present the play this Friday.

"Instead of going to hunt out the Queen at her croquet game, Alice is hunting out the Rodeo Queen at the Westernland rodeo," said art, French and drama teacher, Elizabeth Silver.

They have a Cheshire cactus instead of cat and a jack rabbit in place of a white rabbit.

The actors use just one stage during the entire play, Alice's dreaming mind. The actors use their imaginations to board an imaginary train in one scene.

Jan Romberger a teacher in Flagstaff wrote the adaptation and gave the script to the Shelby School to use and adapt as they saw fit.

The play was originally written for 76 actors. There are 17 in the principal cast at the Shelby School, plus another five extras and one non-acting technician. There are four second- and third-graders and the rest of the parts are played by seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders. Auditions were held within the drama class.

Working together and building something together has been the big lesson for students according to Silver. Sets and costumes were created in a joint effort between Shelby School teachers, parents, former students and current students. The community support has been generous.

The Zane Grey Twirlers gave Silver some pointers on choreographing the square dance in the play. The Twirlers provided 45 records from 50 years ago. These were incorporated into the play's soundtrack.

Lumberman's donated $400 to the fledgling theater department to build the flats that the school will be using into the future.

"We have a wonderful working relationship with the high school drama department," Silver said. "Kathy Siler has been very generous. She's lending platforms for our stage."

In a reciprocal gesture of goodwill, the Shelby School is going to put legs on them.

Silver believed, in spite of the lack of drama experience and the small practice stage, the school's play is coming together successfully.

Silver said this play is a dream come true for the Shelby School and some of its students.

Eighth-grade student Amanda Alspaugh, who plays the queen in Alice In Rodeoland, said that acting is one of her dreams.

She said the part is perfect for her because, "I like to play mean characters. I have a lot of anger myself and it is better to take it out on stage than on real people."

Her favorite scene is when she yells at the jack rabbit Alice chases down the hole.

If you wish to see just what a Cheshire cactus and all the other whimsical beings in Alice in Rodeoland look like, there will only be one performance, but the public is welcome: 7 p.m., Friday, April 29 at Crawford Hall, the Church of the Holy Nativity, located at 1414 N. Easy Street. Call the Shelby School at (928) 478-4706 for more information.

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