For the last three weeks, it's been topsy-turvy inside the Historic Feed Store in Largo. Alice has been relentlessly chasing the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum have been battling it out, and the zany Mad Hatter has been whooping it up at his tea parties. The ruckus will culminate this weekend when the members of the Largo Cultural Center summer musical theater camp present Disney's Alice in Wonderland. It will be presented Friday and Saturday in the Tonne Playhouse inside the Cultural Center. Rehearsals have been held at the Feed Store, next to the Cultural Center, because Eight O'Clock Theater occupied the main stage for its July show, the Fantasticks.
The production, with 41 children participating, is the camp's second of the summer. Older campers, ages 12 to 17, presented Willy Wonka Jr. in June.
Director Chris Holcom, music director Bill Aligood and choreographer Derek Baxter have spent eight hours a day since mid July inside the Feed Store.
"Yes, indeed, it's an adventure to have all the kids in here,'' said Baxter, 28, who attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. "But I love it. I love working in the alternative space like this.''
The camp is touted as an introduction to theater.
"This is the first exposure to the stage for a large percentage of these kids,'' said Holcom, 31. "Although it's a rushed process in three weeks' time, we hope it is a nice intro into the theater world.''
Along with instruction on singing, dancing and acting, the adults have been coordinating costume and set design. As expected, they've run a bit of damage control as well.
"With 41 kids this age, you've got 29 who wanted to be Alice, and everybody can't be Alice. We knew there would be some emotions the first week during auditions. But in this production, we stress that it is an ensemble. We make sure nobody outshines anyone else," said Holcom, who teaches English and drama at the Academy at the Lakes in Land O'Lakes.
The show will include a few surprises for the audience.
"I don't want to give anything away, but there are some sight and sound gags, and lots of inside jokes for Disney aficionados,'' Holcom said.
And the lucky lady who will play Alice?
"There is not just one," Holcom said. "We've got three Alices. Remember, everybody here gets their moment in the spotlight.''