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CCA students to perform ‘Alice in Wonderland’

Wonderland will be taking over the Chilton Christian Academy gym May 10-12 for a student-led production of “Alice in Wonderland,” based on the novel by Lewis Carroll.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the production will commence promptly at 7 p.m.

The production will be the masterpiece of merely two weeks’ preparation by the entire high school student body.

“The students run the show,” Charlotte Johnson, English teacher at CCA, said. “They’re given a tremendous amount of responsibility and a tremendous amount of freedom with which to enact that responsibility.”

Students manage lights, sounds, music, dancing, acting and more — regardless of their familiarity with theater and its various components.

“The whole school participates,” Johnson said. “I’m talking, the jocks, the nerds, the people who flourish in technical aspects and the actors.”

It is mandatory.

“To graduate high school, you have to have a Fine Art credit, and it’s a full year,” Johnson explained. “They put in 90 hours a year, and we shut the high school down for two weeks … and we build, construct, paint, sew, hammer the gym into submission and turn it into a stage.”

The 2018 “shutdown,” so called even though the school remains open, began April 30 at 8 a.m.

The dress rehearsal is May 9 at 12:30 p.m. — just nine days later.

“Technically I think it’s impossible, but now that we’ve done it about 12 times, it’s totally possible,” Johnson said.

Students do not audition for character roles. Instead, they are assigned roles. Johnson casts seniors first and then distributes the remaining roles to students best suited for the parts.

“I literally hand it to the kids and say, ‘Here it is — learn it, good luck,’” Johnson said. “They show up on the first day of production with their lines learned, and then we go!”

Talent is not necessarily a factor.

“This allows them a full range of high school experience not just in the thing that they excel at,” Johnson said, adding that sometimes the students discover they thrive in their new roles and responsibilities.

Johnson said special effects in the school’s “Alice in Wonderland” production will include the use of a black light in up to four dance numbers. The gym’s skylights have been covered for the greatest experience.

“That’s a huge part of production this year,” she said.

To give the students a taste of theater reality, Johnson said she takes the students each year to the Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery.

The students model their productions accordingly.

“They understand how theater works, they understand how box office works, so we run it just like that,” Johnson said. “They have will call, you have pre-purchases, and it’s really cool.”

Attendance is $7 per person. Family tickets can be purchased for $15 per family member, usable for all three nights.

Johnson said CCA expects the gym to meet full capacity each night with first come, first serve seating.

The school office can be reached at (205) 688-4454.

Chilton Christian Academy is located at 23240 U.S. Highway 31 in Jemison.