RCTC ready to present Alice in Wonderland

Suzi Larkin, left, of Watertown, playing the Queen of Hearts, and Ellen Geis, as Alice, rehearse for River City Theatre Company's upcoming production, Alice in Wonderland.
Suzi Larkin, left, of Watertown, playing the Queen of Hearts, and Ellen Geis, as Alice, rehearse for River City Theatre Company’s upcoming production, Alice in Wonderland.

Watertown’s River City Theatre Company’s seventh production will open next Thursday, Sept. 13, when the group presents Alice in Wonderland. Thursday’s show, a pay what you can performance, is the first of six performances over the course of two weekends.

Hannah Steblay-Olson, a freelance director and actor, is back to direct the show once again after directing many of River City’s shows in the past, including last year’s fall production, The Land of Oz. Steblay-Olson said choosing Alice in Wonderland for this year’s fall production was an easy choice to follow last years.

“We choice Alice in Wonderland because we had a lot of success with an episodic adventure play last year doing “Oz,” she said. “We thought that doing this show would allow us to be innovative in a way that didn’t necessarily require tons of money. Rather, it required tons of creativity, which is what we have a lot of.”

Steblay-Olson added that the play’s ability to include a cast size of around 50 actors was also a draw. While a large number of cast members are from Watertown, the play has drawn actors from nearby cities like Waconia, Mayer, and Lester Prairie, as well as from cities not so nearby, like Minneapolis, West St. Paul, Eagan and Inver Grove Heights.

The play will be Steblay-Olson’s own adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s book, but she said not to expect any surprises or significant variations from the story.

“When one writes from a book, like I’ve done four times now, I don’t believe in inventing things that aren’t central to the original novel,” she said. “Most of the dialogue you hear is pulled directlyfrom Carroll’s book. There’s very little that’s invented.”

Steblay-Olson said those who attend one of the performances would be impressed by the beauty of the production. She said a great deal of time an energy has gone into creating the set and costumes.
“It’s really beautiful, she said. “This is a production that Watertown has never seen the caliber of talent and resources and energy that’s gone into the set and costumes and everything else. It’s pretty extraordinary.”

In addition to the Sept. 13 pay what you can opener at 7 p.m., there will also be 7 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14-15, as well as a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Sept. 16. There will also be two shows the following weekend, one at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, and another matinee at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22. The second matinee is new this time around for the theatre group.

“I think that people wanted it,” Steblay-Olson said. “It’s achildren’s show, so it’s common to do matinees because they can’t stay up as late.”

Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for students 17 and under. Tickets are free for military personnel with proper ID.