Montana troupe helps local kids shine on stage

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Alice in Wonderland cast members rehearse at Mattituck High School auditorium on Friday morning.

The Mattituck High School stage lit up this weekend, for the fourth year in a row, with a troupe of local students led by a professional theater group.

Saturday evening the young thespians presented “Alice in Wonderland,” a modern, song-and-dance version of the classic children’s tale of the girl who went down the rabbit hole into a bizarre world.

Laura Jens-Smith, who runs the North Fork Kids youth enrichment program, partners each summer with the Missoula Children’s Theater from Montana to mount a unique new production.

Director Ted Drury and assistant Bridget Lachowsky spend the summer traveling in a red truck filled with costumes and sets, bringing theater to children’s groups around the country.

Arriving on the North Fork early in August, they began rehearsals with local students on Monday and, after a week of intensive rehearsals, staged the show for one night only.

“It’s amazing what they can do in a week,” Ms. Jens-Smith, whose children also participated in the show, said at rehearsal Friday morning. “There wasn’t any theater group out here for kids during the summer. It’s great to give them an opportunity to perform on a local stage.”

The student performers range in age from 6 to 16. Three youngsters, Taylor DiDonna, Haley Unger and Madison Storm, played Alice at different times, based on whether she is big, small or somewhere in the middle. The cast included 50 other students, who learned choreography, dialogue and songs in a marathon stretch of day-long rehearsals.

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