Theatrix presents ‘Alice vs. Wonderland’ Nov. 10-13

Senior Jorden Charley-Whatley directs Theatrix's "Alice vs. Wonderland."
Senior Jorden Charley-Whatley directs Theatrix's "Alice vs. Wonderland."

Theatrix, the student-producing theatre organization of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, presents Brendan Shea’s “Alice vs. Wonderland.”

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10-12 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13 in the Lab Theatre, which is located on the third floor of the Temple Building. Tickets are $7 each and available one hour prior to the performance outside the Lab Theatre or in advance online at

Directed by Jorden Charley-Whatley, a senior theatre performance and directing/management student from Bellevue, Nebraska, “Alice vs. Wonderland” is about a girl named Alice, who falls into Wonderland. Wonderland is as mad as ever, but it has also entered the 21st century and the internet era.

“It was written in about 2011, so it’s very contemporary,” Charley-Whatley said. “And the way the playwright describes it, it is a remix of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ as opposed to a retelling. This one is redone to be a coming of age story in the 21st century and dealing with the internet era.”

Charley-Whatley said you know you are in for a different ‘Alice’ from the first scene.

“In one of the first scenes, one of the characters, Mary Ann, is watching Alice, who has a YouTube channel,” he said. “One of the first things she says is ‘I wish I were her,’ which is a very easy thing to do as a young adult is to compare yourself to people on the internet and celebritize all those people on YouTube or Instagram. So it’s playing with those ideas.”

In fact, there are six different Alices in the production.

“There are six different Alices in this show, which I think is sort of the idea that on the internet, you can portray yourself as anyone that you want to be,” he said.

Candace Nelson, a senior theatre performance major from Elm Creek, Nebraska, plays Alice #1.

“She is the first one you meet in the play,” Nelson said. “All of the Alices are supposed to be different embodiments of a young girl growing up. Mine, I think you can relate to those punk girls you used to see on YouTube in 2006. Classic skinny jeans and probably looks like I just got out of a rock band practice. I think she’s easily relatable to the teenage angst we all went through.”

Charley-Whatley has a cast of 10 people playing 32 different characters in the production.

Cullen Wiley, a freshman theatre performance from St. Paul, Minnesota, plays the Mad Hatter in his first production for the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.

“The Mad Hatter is definitely a jokester in this production,” Wiley said. “He’s still a charismatic, outgoing character like he is in all other ‘Alice in Wonderland’ stories out there. Besides the Mad Hatter, I play Door 3 and the White Knight.”

Charley-Whatley said a lot happens in the production.

“One of the challenges is the space I have for the show isn’t very large, so I have to figure out how to move 10 bodies in a small space. That will be a fun challenge,” he said. “It’s not a very long show—it’s about an hour. But it’s a lot happening in a short amount of time, and it asks for a lot technically.”

Nelson likes that challenge as well.

“I love how there is so much going on the entire play,” she said. “We get to play so many characters and do things you wouldn’t normally see in other plays. It’s super over-the-top and theatrical, which, as an actor, is the best because it’s more to play with.”

The set was designed with computer video games in mind.

“The design concept I’m going for is Wonderland being this computer or video game-esque type of world,” Charley-Whatley said. “So a lot of the props will look like they’re made of pixels or video game references. All of the set pieces will look like they are entrances to video game levels. A lot of the music will be inspired by the mid-2000 music mixed in with eight-bit soundtracks and video game soundtracks. It will be a lot of neon colors juxtaposed against black and a lot of bright colors.”

Charley-Whatley loves working with Theatrix.

“Theatrix has always been a place that I have been able to work in,” he said. “I’ve stage managed shows. I’ve designed shows, and then I finally decided to pitch a show for my senior year. I owe so much to Theatrix because it has let me learn so much outside of the classroom.”

His goal for the production is for everyone to have fun.

“I’m just looking forward to making sure everyone has a fun time,” he said. “Talking to all my actors and designers, I’ve been giving them as much direction as they want and I have a very clear idea of what I want for the show. But what I want most of all is for everyone to get to see what they want to see happening on that stage. I just want everyone to be really excited for that show.”

He hopes the audience has fun, too.

“The audiences should expect a very fast comedy, and it should be a lot of fun for them, as well,” he said. “They should feel a little nostalgic, too. If they aren’t currently search for who they are, then they can think back to a time when they were, which for most people is high school. It’s easy to look back at high school and shudder a bit, but sometimes you just want to look back and say, ‘I can’t believe I went through that phase, but I also don’t completely regret it.’”

Nelson encourages the audience to see how this familiar story has changed in this production.

“Everyone knows of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ so come check out this interesting retelling of it, and see how she’s changed,” she said. “There will be dancing and music and lots of fun.”