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r2p AliceJr PublicityPhoto2
Running to Places (R2P) takes a running leap down the rabbit hole in 'Alice in Wonderland Jr.', a fast-paced, magical journey the whole family will enjoy. The show runs April 5-7 at R2P's (temporary) Theatre at the Shops at Ithaca Mall, while R2P's permanent home is under construction. The entrance is through the food court, in the former Sears/Ultimate Athletics space.

Curious Alice (Julia Smith) can't resist chasing the White Rabbit into Wonderland, launching her on a whirlwind adventure of self-discovery. Guided by the mischievous Cheshire Cat narrators (Andrew Kaiser, Sahana Bhaskaran, Truman Lyons), she shrinks into a small, then tall version of herself (Lily Ryan), is instructed in manners by the hilarious Tweedle Dee (Maggie Schneider) and Tweedle Dum (Xander Dawson), visits the strangest tea party ever, presided over by the Mad Hatter (Isabel Leyden Githler), and parties with a psychedelic Caterpillar (Mwape Sokoni). Alice manages to beat the wicked Queen of Hearts (Corinne Ford) at her own game, but as she encounters "curiouser and curiouser" creatures, she wonders if she will ever get home again.

"The show is about the importance of being yourself," says Joey Steinhagen, R2P artistic director. "Alice is constantly being told 'do this' and 'don't do that.' During her wild and whimsical journey through Wonderland, she discovers what works for her. She's taking her own power, to be who she is and not apologize for it. As an organization, R2P tries to encourage this in all of our kids, too."

The original 'Alice' was written as a satire, and if anything the musical is even funnier, says Steinhagen. "It's got jokes for people of all ages, with references to everything from Bugs Bunny to Gilbert & Sullivan."

The musical is based on the Disney move of the same name, but with punchier, updated dialogue. While favorite songs remain, like the White Rabbit's "I'm Late for a Very Important Date" and "A Very Merry Unbirthday," there are new songs and characters as well, including a quintet of snooty flowers who belt out a Dianna Ross and the Supremes-like big number.

The venue will enable the show to be performed "in the round" — the audience will surround the stage on all sides. This not only creates an immersive experience, but also improves everyone's view of the show, said Steinhagen. "In addition to the creative opportunities that this configuration presents, it's also a whole new set of theatrical skills for these young performers to explore, as the vast majority of theatres they will have worked in are traditional 'proscenium' with the audience all facing one direction," he noted.

"Alice is a story about the power of imagination, and costume designer Candice Wade has come up with amazingly creative solutions for all these crazy beings Alice encounters on her journey," said Steinhagen. There's even a little circus influence woven into the production.

The dancing, choreographed by Harmony Malone, is energetic and "irresistibly contagious," Steinhagen says. "These kids are talented and passionate and funny. They know how to do this stuff."

Other members of the design team include resident music director Jeremy Pletter, set designer Deborah Drew, prop master Janet Olsen, sound designer Jordan Fearon, and lighting designer Natty Simson.

The show is sponsored by Buttermilk Fall Pediatrics, Cayuga Medical Center, the Hilton Garden Inn/Kilpatricks Public House, and an anonymous fund at the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, with additional grant support from Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County and season-long support from CSP Management.

The show runs one weekend only: April 5-7, Friday and Saturday at 7 PM, Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM.

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