A Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Day at YST’s Alice in Wonderland Jr!

Youth Theatre Review by Alisa Hayashida

The Cast of YST’s Alice in Wonderland Jr. now playing at Fremont Centre Theatre

Young Stars Theatre company is back with their summer production of Alice In Wonderland Jr, which had it’s opening night gala on Friday at the Fremont Centre Theatre. All your favorite Disney characters are here from Alice to the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit who is forever running late. A lively, musical adaptation of the Disney film, Alice In Wonderland Jr. features those all time favorite songs including “I’m Late” and “The Un-Birthday Song” with a little Jazz & Hip Hop thrown into the mix.

The set by Jack Bennett and team captivates as soon as you enter the theatre with it’s bright colors and fantastic giant tree while Sam Phillips’ lighting design will have you spinning down the rabbit hole with Alice and the White Rabbit. The fantastic choreographer Mirai Booth-Ong lends her talents to YST once again and does a phenomenal job. The young actors look like they are having the time of their lives.

Bruce Marin as the Cheshire Cat in YST’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.
Bruce Marin as the Cheshire Cat in YST’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.

Director Jack Bennett keeps the pace moving and the dialogue quick and wry while Gloria Bennett’s music direction has the actors articulating beautifully and sounding strong. As per YST tradition, the show is double cast, making full use of the talents of over 29 actors that range from a 5 year old in their first show to seasoned, professional 16 year olds, all singing their hearts out. Friday night was the Queen’s cast and nothing is cuter than little girls Melody and Cadence Cole, Christina Amber, Gianna Lucio and Sienna Lucio (Aine Lee, Casteen Legaspi, Christina Devantier, Delaney Lehman & Landyn Rosemond in ‘King’s Cast’) in delightful flower costumes singing The Golden Afternoon. It’s so exciting to see little ones getting their first taste of theatre magic and applause.

A good amount of comedy and sass comes from the Cheshire Cat(s) played by Sascha Tominaga, Reilly Jimenez and Aaron Phillips (Bruce Marin makes for a darling little Cheshire in the King’s Cast).YST veterans J’Quinn McKenna and Eadan Franklynn are hilarious as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum while Aine Lee (Maddie Nellis) imbues the White Rabbit with alacrity and a strong voice. Lauren Martin is frighteningly funny as the Queen of Hearts playing the perfect villain and Aidan Martin (Aaron Phillips) gets great laughs as the put upon King. Kennedi Young, coming to us all the way from Fresno, has a lot of fun as the Mad Hatter and is in cahoots with the dynamic Snaia Lane as the March Hare. Liam Walker and Jack Wisinski have a ball as the too cool for school Caterpillar who leads the cast in a rousing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. And finally, Alice played by three actresses to represent the different sized Alices; Casteen Legaspi, Christina Devantier and Chloe Jimenez take us on the journey through this wild and crazy Wonderland. The cast is rounded out by Sofia Richards as the wacky Dodo Bird, Addison Bryan, April DiFranco and Margeaux Reign.

Alice in Wonderland Jr. plays Fridays 7pm, Sat. 3pm & 7pm Sundays 3pm. $25. For tickets AND to stay updated on upcoming shows and auditions go to www.YoungStarsTheatre.org. Sign up for email updates. Playing now at Fremont Centre Theatre 1000 Fremont Ave. (626) 269-3609.

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