• Youngsters prep for 'Alice in Wonderland'

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    The Child and Youth Services EDGE! Curtain Call’s spring show “Alice in Wonderland Jr.” is set for 7 p.m. April 24 and 26 at Post Theater.
    Marianne Tennant, production director, said the 29 children in the cast are hard at work preparing.
    “It’s going very (well),” Tennant said. “We have some awesome parents who have helped set design, done costumes, worked with the kids on their lines. (They’re) just absolutely wonderful. When the kids see their parents involved then they get more excited, too.”
    Currently in its 11th year, the EDGE! Curtain Call program is open to military children ages 6-16 who are registered with CYS.
    “Curtain Call was included in the EDGE! after-school programming initiative to offer enrichment activities to children and youth who were not enrolled in daily after-school programs,” said Christy Allie, assistant director, Harrold Youth Center. “The program gives the participants a chance to learn about theater arts, acting, singing, dancing, staging, set-making and lighting (and) allows youth to build confidence and self-esteem.”
    Allie said Curtain Call is the only program left in EDGE! because of its continuing popularity and Tennant said Fort Leavenworth is one of the only places Curtain Call still exists.
    “We are one of the very few Army-wide that is still available for the theater program. They’ve cut all the Curtain Calls everywhere else,” Tennant said. “We have been consistently full with a waiting list for our shows.”
    Tennant said there are two benefits for the children who perform at a young age.
    “One is imagination. Two, the opportunity for even shy kids to come on stage and be something that they’re not,” she said.
    Ella Kaness, 12, who plays “Tweedledum” in the production, said embodying a different character is what she likes most about theater.
    “It’s really getting into your character, being someone completely different,” Kaness said. “It does give you a little more confidence and it does help you develop your character if you play someone as yourself.”
    Ashley Nevins, mother of 9-year-old Aoife Nevins, who portrays “Daisy, the flower,” said she sees a difference in her daughter when she’s on stage.
    “It’s fun to watch her on stage. She’s a completely different person than when she’s around us,” Nevins said. “I think it’s a really great experience for her because we home-school. It gives her an opportunity to stand up on stage in front of a crowd and talk. It lets her be herself instead of always being with mom and with the familiarity of home. She can actually express herself and be her.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Nevins said Aoife is a veteran Curtain Call performer having been in “Elf Jr.” (2016), “Annie Jr.” (2017) and “A Fairy Tale Christmas Carol: The Musical” (2017) and that she is always there to help her cast mates.
    “She comes in and she’s just ready to go. She knows what to do and helps everyone out when they forget their lines,” Nevins said.
    Aoife Nevins said there’s one specific reason why she enjoys doing the shows.
    “You get to meet new people and make friends,” she said.
    Tennant said making friends is the biggest benefit to theater.
    “One of the big things in anyone who has ever done theater is the friends that they make and they definitely do,” she said.
    Lydia Alexander, 9, who plays “Alice”, said she was enjoying her first show.
    “I like doing the whole thing in general. I like my character. Every now and then I’m like ‘That character is so cool’ but then I’m like, ‘Wait, this is my first show and it’s all centered around me,’” she said.
    “It’s hard but I had fun with it. My lovely mother painted and (drew) the set out, too, so that’s fun for me.”
    Lydia’s mom, Kasey Alexander, said she was excited for her daughter and that she was shocked to see Lydia embrace it so well.
    “Her father and I are both very proud of her,” Alexander said. “She practiced really hard and she was unusually receptive to constructive criticism. So, we are really excited for her that her hard work paid off because we were a little worried being new to the program.”
    “We are shocked at Lydia and just how confident she is,” she said. “I think it’s boosted her confidence in public performances and presentation.”
    Lydia said she hopes to be a Broadway actress one day and Alexander said that comes from the many Broadway shows they have seen as a family.
    “Our family, we just like to immerse our children in culture and expose them to as many things as we can and let them develop their tastes and preferences,” Alexander said. “I think that live theater is a lot better than watching a movie and I think it requires more talent and discipline than a movie.”
    Lydia said her favorite part of live theater is the music and the connections made behind-the-scenes.
    “You’ve got all those friends and then afterward you kind of all get together and hang out with each other,” she said. “It’s definitely fun.”
    Page 3 of 3 - For more information about “Alice in Wonderland Jr.” and the EDGE! Curtain Call program, contact Allie at christy.l.rohlfing-allie.naf@mail.mil. Sign-ups for the winter production of “Elf Jr.” begin Aug. 30. Rehearsals are every Tuesday and Thursday for 12 weeks. Contact CYS at 684-5138 for details.
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