Pike County Little Theatre has put on may plays over the years, but its recent production of “Alice in Wonderland” may be the first to ever been pulled off during a pandemic.
Co-director Debbie Watkins said there were a lot of challenges, but she believed it was important to show off the talent of the 36 children in the production.
“I was thrilled to be a part of the experience,” she said. “Kids were certainly the top stars, and their parents were the support group. These kids are the future, not just for theatre but also as community leaders.
“The reality of this was that doing the show was not about making money. The only reason we did it was to give these children an opportunity to perform.”
Watkins said the key to success in a show with a majority of children actors is the support of parents and guardians.
“You have to have supportive parents because the parents are who you are communicating with. They are footing the bill and providing transportation,” she said. “The support of the parents has been the biggest attribute to the success of the program.”
Two actors played the role of Alice: Maddie Phil-lips and her alternate, Pailyn Magee, who also played as a mouse. Other cast members include Maddie Buckalew, Timothy Watkins, Sarah Holifield, Ellen Parker, Allison Roberts, Jonathan Wells, Jon Bowen LeBlanc, Galen Stephens, Bryce LeBlanc, Madeline Alford, Brenna McCaskell, Blade Martin, Chandler Tamor, Noah Martin, Aly Lynch, Caroline Williams, Cadence Laird, Clete Magee, Waylon Martin, Eli O’Quinn, Nathan Holifield, Emma Jerrell, Ellie Lambert, Joy Leggett, Josiah May, Cadence Shepherd, Emily Alford, Natalie Flemming, Stormy Macon, Emma Wicker, Karys Miller, Cady Parker, Lela Mae Tamor, Ralyn Fontenot, Archer Fontenot, Luke Holifield and Matthieu Tamor.
Watkins said she could not have done the production without her co-director Katie Quin.
“I’ve wanted to do this for several years, but it is such a huge show and cast,” Quin said, noting that once she and Watkins did “Charlotte’s Web” last year and had such a good response in auditions that she knew they could fill the roles for this show.
Quin said it is a misconception that a cast of children might be hard to direct.
“It is not as bad as some people might think it is. It actually is not bad at all,” Quinn said. “They are all so eager to learn more about their craft and they are already so talented all I have to tell them what direction and they will go that way.”
Quin said the most important thing to note about the show is that the children had a hand in every part of the production, from make up to working as backstage hands.
“Everyone in the cast worked really hard. They gave up weekends to build things, paint and clean,” she said. “They can take ownership of every part of the show.”
Watkins said all of the challenges from the coronavirus ended up being helpful in the long run, noting that the props mistress Christina Holifield, who lives in Indiana, was only in McComb because of the virus. On top of this, Watkins said her son was also back in McComb due to the virus and helped with large props. She also noted that the delay gave them more time to work out the kinks in the show and add more ambitious set pieces like the moving gears they displayed during the tea party scene.
“Something would happen, but sometime before the end of the day, it would be resolved. Many times, it was resolved with something better,” she said.