Arts & Culture

Kate Ayers puts some surprises in her adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland”

Elizabeth Alexander, left, portrays the cook while Samantha Chandler plays the Duchess in Olympia Family Theater’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.”
Elizabeth Alexander, left, portrays the cook while Samantha Chandler plays the Duchess in Olympia Family Theater’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.” Courtesy of Olympia Family Theater

Olympia Family Theater’s latest production, opening Friday (March 17), is the premiere of an adaptation by Kate Ayers of the famed story “Alice in Wonderland.”

The play is based on the children’s classic book by Lewis Carroll in which Alice tumbles down the rabbit hole. There she finds herself going through a series of progressively “curiouser and curiouser,” events including the croquet game with the Queen and a marathon-style caucus race.

Led by director Jen Ryle, the cast of 11 adults plays a combination of 18 characters including favorites such as Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare.

While the story is certainly familiar to many, audiences should expect a few surprises along the way in Ayers’ adaptation.

While Ryle didn’t want to give away too much, she said, “Our Alice will step into the action as someone from ‘outside’ of the cast of our show. Using this theatrical device, she will seem to experience the wonder anew each night. Tweedle Dee and Dum are our comical stage hands who will help Alice to navigate the story each night.”

This will be the third time the theater company has produced a version of “Alice in Wonderland.” It was the first play done by the company in 2006, and again in 2011, but with an all-youth cast.

When Ryle and Ayers discussed last spring how to present this year’s production, Ryle said she reread the book, making a list of which scenes to include and which to leave out.

“In approaching this production, I wanted to think outside the box and ensure that we can give the story our own OFT twist,” Ryle said.

Ayers is one of the theater’s artists in residence, serving as the “Let’s Play Daytime” show playwright. She has more than 20 years of teaching experience, plus extensive experience in education theater programs. She has been with the family theater for five years.

Some of her previous positions include serving as artistic director of the Indianapolis Children’s Theater. Ayers has extensive experience with the Olympia Family Theater as well. She has appeared in productions of “Goodnight Moon,” “Go. Dog. GO!” and “The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” She also has worked backstage as the director of “The Monster Under the Bed,” “Peter Rabbit and Me” and “Elephant and Piggie’s ‘We are in a Play!’ 

Ryle said the 75-minute show is appropriate for all ages.

Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640

Alice in Wonderland

When: Friday (March 17)-Sunday, March 23-26 and March 30-April 2. Thursday and Friday performances are at 7 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday performances are at 2 p.m.

Where: Olympia Family Theater, 612 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia.

Tickets: $19 adults; $16 seniors, student and military; $13 for 11 and younger. The March 23 show is pay what you can. Tickets for that performance are available at the box office starting at noon of day of show, cash or check only.

Information: 360-570-1638,