Mid-Missouri students are taking a trip down the rabbit hole with a production of "Alice in Wonderland (Not the Musical)" at the Fulton Brick District Playhouse.
The cast, made up of students from all over Callaway County, will have two shows this weekend, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday.
The production is part of an agreement between the Brick District Playhouse and TRYPS not-for-profit children's theater in Columbia.
When the Playhouse reopened for shows, the board decided to partner with TRYPS to provide theater opportunities for Callaway County students.
The students started rehearsing the nine-scene show that follows an abridged version of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll.
"I think its been going really good," co-director Melanie Brucker said. "I'm actually really kind of amazed how much these kids have been able to really latch onto things. We have kids who are like 'Oh my gosh, can I do this?' 'Can you make this decision?' 'Can you do this on stage?' Which is exactly what you want."
Brucker said she loves to work in childrens theater because at the heart of it is reckless joy and unbridled chaos.
Theater gives children an opportunity to be loud and take up space, to be silly and wild, she said.
"I think it's really freeing for these kids," she said.
While the students have been learning the show, Brucker said, they've also been learning about how to be a more empathetic person.
"Really being able to step into someone else's shoes and know what it's like to experience happiness and joy and share that with other people," she said. "I think that's what theater is, as a whole."
The best part, she said, is it's obvious the students are having fun.
For instance, along with the production, the students have been learning theater games to help them get ready to go on stage. One is called "instant death" where you can make eye contact with people across a circle and then pretend to die dramatically.
"They play it on their breaks now, and they request playing certain games, which are all designed to work on communication and paying attention," Brucker said.
Along with Brucker and her co-director, Jennifer Cole, two high school students are working on the production as co-assistant directors, Amiyah Edwards and Kennedy Wisdom.
Both are former students in the program who decided they wanted to come back and help it be successful.
They help the students go over lines and ensure rehearsals go smoothly.
"We didn't really have the experience of preparing people, not only preparing people but looking at line setting up, blocking, stuff like that," Wisdom said, "so we're like learning seeing it from a different perspective."
Tickets for the show are $8 and can be purchased at www.thebrickdistrictplayhouse.com.