Graduate displays artistic flair with costumes
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Next month, students at Indian River Charter High School will go down a rabbit hole and hope to come out on top.
The Prince Street Players musical version of "Alice in Wonderland," will be the debut show at the performing arts school's new theater venue, the Charter Dome, for three evening performances April 5-7.
The play is a musical version of Lewis Carroll's whimsical and wacky book and will be a treat for the eyes and ears of all in attendance, said Michael Naffziger, theater director.
"More than 100 students will be involved in the production in one way or another, from dancers to light and sound technicians," he said.
Audiences will be treated to fashionable, stylized versions of the familiar characters designed by graduated Indian River Charter High School student, Wendy Gonzalez.
In the past, large productions similar to "Alice in Wonderland" would be done in the Vero Beach Theater Guild facility because there wasn't a place on campus large enough to hold a big crowd, but with the Charter Dome, students can organize and present their artistic visions in a more familiar setting, their school home.
The Charter Dome is a breezy, outdoor theater venue with a covering in the school's courtyard area.
"The construction of the dome was made possible by two generous private donors," Mr. Naffziger said. "A moveable, stackable stage was purchased and will allow the performing arts department to put on shows in various configurations, including in the round."
Mr. Naffziger came to Vero Beach after directing in Los Angeles and couldn't be more thrilled with his students and their dedication to the arts.
"They rise to the occasion. If I told them we had to perform this in the parking lot, they'd say OK. The applause is secondary to them, they do this because they love it," Mr. Naffziger said.
The "Wonderland" characters in the school's production will be quite different from the Disney characters everyone is used to seeing, Mr. Naffziger said.
"A story like "Alice in Wonderland" reinforces the idea that human imagination is both amazing and something to never let die," he said
The costume designs are more modern and learn toward high fashion rather than cutesy and comical. The zany personalities of the characters clearly shine through with colors, shapes and the materials used in creation of the costumes.
"Ms. Gonzalez's creativity and originality in both makeup and costume design will only enhance the audience's experience of 'Alice in Wonderland,'" he said.
The Red Queen's outfit takes on a fierce edge with red wire mesh coverings, evoking Lady Gaga. The Tweedle brothers, instead of short and dumpy, are portrayed as tall and thin with the help of stilts, making it necessary to customize pants for the pair that are about 6-feet long.
Though she graduated from the school in 2007, Ms. Gonzalez is happy to lend her talents as the theater's costume designer and stay in touch with the performing arts at her alma mater.
"I'm a stay-at-home mom and this is something I love to do," Ms. Gonzalez said.
The production of the costumes happens at her home, which she admits is slowly taking over her space.
"It started out in the guest room and now it's in about half of my living room," she said with a laugh.
Tickets to the musical are still available and are $20 for adults and $10 for students.
For tickets or for more information, call (772) 567-6600, Ext. 235 or visit www.irchs.org.