Sixth-graders transformed the Lower School (LS) gym into Wonderland on April 25 and 26 with sets and props they made themselves, colorful costumes, and special effects. The class performed Alice in Wonderland Jr., which follows the adventures and interactions of Alice—played by Natalie Gersen, Cassie Wang, Daisy Simboli, and Rose Fahy (all ’24)— while promoting a message of self-acceptance.
LS Drama Teacher Jennifer Lifson, who directed the play, said students enjoy the musical because it provides an opportunity to collaborate with other homerooms and perform together as a grade.
“Just the fact that it’s a part of their day means that they work together as a community towards one goal. We get to mix kids from different homerooms, and everyone gets to be a part of this special event,” Ms. Lifson said.
To prepare for the show, the 60 sixth graders memorized lines, learned songs, worked on dance technique, planned special effects, and made the set. The performance was a product of six months of rehearsing three hours per week, along with two four-hour Sunday rehearsals.
Because there were more actors than roles, Ms. Lifson split the lead roles, added characters, and adjusted lines so that each student had a significant part. Having directed this show before at the school, she knew what to expect, she said.
“The costumes were definitely challenging to think about and conceive, but many kids didn’t have costume changes, so this wasn’t as difficult as some of the other shows I’ve done in the past,” she said.
Cassie said she enjoyed the chance to interact with kids from other classes while preparing for the musical.
“We don’t really get to see them in our normal school day,” she said, “so it was great to spend time with them.”
Quinn Pappendick ’24, who played a lobster in the production, said he started to enjoy drama more this year during rehearsals and found that performing live is not nerve-wracking with a good group of friends as support.
“Sometimes performing in front of a crowd is hard, but when you’re out there, it’s really fun,” he said. “It really brought our class closer together.”
Lori Belz P’19, ’24 said she loves this school tradition because it fosters so much teamwork and collaboration onstage and behind the scenes.
“Ms. Lifson is really able to get the best out of the kids and pick out each of their unique gifts,” Ms. Belz said. “I think the kids knocked it out of the park. They had so much energy, and they had such a great time doing it.”