My Adventures in Wonderland as Alice

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Image used with permission from Chloe Chun

Sophomore Chloe Chun (left) as Alice joins junior Delaney Jackson as the Queen of Hearts and senior Zion Mejia as the King of Hearts in costume backstage during the video streaming production of “Alice.”

Chloe Chun

Settling on the living room couch, I take a worn book and open it with a smile — the perfect way to spend my fifth-grade summer break. 

For the rest of that warm, quiet afternoon, I sit there in a trance, flipping pages and head swarming with images of talking rabbits, tea parties, furious queens and tart stealing thieves, as I read what would become my favorite novel: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. 

I never expected that five years later, I would be playing the lead role in my high school’s production of Lewis work. 

My passion for acting started in kindergarten when my mom’s friend discreetly drove me to Los Angeles for an audition, where — to my mother and her friend’s surprise — I made it to the final commercial, and from then on, my mom and I spent my elementary school years commuting to different cities for auditions, commercials and photoshoots. 

I adored going to these performances but stopped in middle school to focus on my studies, which led to a long period void of acting until the summer of 2019, when one of my friends invited me to feature in “The Little Mermaid Jr.: The Musical” at the Biola Youth Theatre in La Mirada. 

Both of us became Ariel’s sisters, parts of the lead cast, and the opportunity prepared me for the practice and expectations that would be placed on me, which helped during the SH production of “Alice.”

Being able to act on camera with old friends like sophomore Ari Chan and making new friendships such as with freshman Samuel Cavendar — also known as the March Hare — and sophomore Lara Martinez — who played Tweedledum — exhilarated and encouraged me to be the best Alice I could be. 

Efforts to memorize the script, practice my lines and organize mini-readings of the script all paid off, and I performed on the Performing Arts Center [PAC] stage Nov. 8-10 talking to rabbits, cats, hatters and queens as part of the video recorded version.  

The virtual play goes public to stream at a yet unrevealed website Dec. 3-5, and tickets come with a bag of secret goodies to be used in specific parts of our interactive show. 

While I am not part of any theater classes, the reason I was even able to get the lead role in “Alice” is because of my friend in the Conservatory of Fine Arts, who told me about a nonexclusive opportunity to join a play. 

I immediately went to the PAC for more information and upon receiving the audition script, rehearsed the rest of the night under the amused gaze of my mom and my cat. 

After a nerve-wracking audition the next day, my friends and I rushed over the day after that to theatre teacher Christian Penuelas’s room to discover that Ari had been cast as the Mad Hatter and I as Alice.

Penuelas chose this virtual play in particular because of how diverse and captivating the characters would be, allowing us students to explore these roles. However, the cast and I not only learned about our characters, but we also bonded with each other and shared the joy that we bring to each other at every rehearsal. 

These rehearsals — the highlights of the weeks that followed— were full of life and warmth. On the first day, when we practiced a dance for the end credits of the film, I remember the whole room erupted with laughter upon learning that sophomore Phoenix Jarman — the actor of Humpty Dumpty —  would not have arms in his costume; he would have to wiggle in place for the entire dance! 

The entire cast in this play constantly brimmed with excitement. When we learned that we would have costumes and an authentic makeup artist for the production, my friends and I let out gasps of shock and joy, which quickly turned into jumping and hooting outside of Penuelas’s room in the school halls after rehearsal. 

After a month, our practices in Penuelas’s room – though masked at all times — soon came to an end as filming week rolled around, and we ran through the scenes one final time. 

With the costumes on, makeup finished and hours of practice behind us, the cast stepped forward into the light of the camera.

As we filmed, my head filled with thoughts as I talked to myself. 

I’m going to miss everyone; this is the last time we’re going to be together like this. Maybe we could all watch our film together after it’s done! I would like that. 

What once was a childhood fantasy is now recorded for all to see, bringing the amazement and wonder that a little girl in her living room years ago had felt to people all across the school. 

Now the audience doesn’t even have to fall down a rabbit hole to see Wonderland. We will just be a click away.