Putting on a stage production is more than just learning lines. Costumes have to be made. Make-up and hair has to be decided on. Props and sets have to be created. Stage lighting and microphone placement determines where your marks are. It’s a tremendous undertaking.
The Young Peoples Theater Workshop hosted by Orange Community Players, Inc. teaches youngsters everything there is to know about the stage. Codie Vásquez manages the program each year.

Week one is devoted to classes covering the different aspects of theater and auditions. The rest of the workshop is devoted to rehearsals for the production; the fruit of their labor.

This years production is “Alice in Wonderland.” Eight-year-old Waverlee Cooper of Bridge City plays the title character. Waverlee is the daughter of Kim and James Cooper.

Vásquez was surprised at Waverlee’s performance. “I gave [potential Alices] a long monologue and told them they had to memorize it if they wanted to try out for Alice.” She fully expected to cast an older child in the role because of the amount of lines required in the play.

Waverlee’s parents were shocked she was cast as Alice. “I think everybody was surprised when she got on stage and how well she did at the auditions,” said her mother.

“She knew [the monologue] word for word,” said Vásquez.

Waverlee learned her lines in a week. “She just seemed really determined to do it. We were really proud of her for that,” said her mother.

“I’m also happy to break the stereotype of the blonde haired, blue eyed Alice,” said Vásquez. “I am very proud of our Chinese-American Alice!”

“She was in a little second grade play at school,” said her mother. “She just really liked being on stage, so I thought I would look this summer and see if I could find anything in the area that might have to do with theater.”

Mrs. Cooper’s search led her to the yearly workshop. “I just signed her up. I didn’t know how well she would do, but we thought it would be a good start for her.”

There are many challenges with a production of Alice in Wonderland. Clearly Waverlee can’t grow and shrink in the same way as Alice, so it is done with changing the size of the props. There is also the matter of the Cheshire Cat disappearing with only a smile. Lani Daniels is dressed in black to represent the parts of her that are invisible.

Thirty-nine young actors and actresses play 51 roles in the production. They are: Alice-Waverlee Cooper; The White Rabbit -Rachel Belcher; Mouse -Kierra Figgins; Duck-Ethan McCollum; Dodo-Abbigail Noah; Lory-Joshua Gosset; Eaglet-Ashlyn Scott; Old Crab, Clubs-Jonah Courtier; The Caterpillar, Hearts-Oceanna Rougeau; Frog-Footman-Cambree Williams; Fish-Footman, Sheep-Audrey Zeto; Duchess-Marlee Bradley; Baby, Clubs-Joseph Rougeau; Cook-Kyriea Sugg; Cheshire Cat-Lani Daniels; March Hare-Chloe Garrett; The Mad Hatter-Regina Marley; Dormouse-Bailey Noah; Five of Spades-Kaylee Lambert; Seven of Spades-Karly Rogers; Two of Spades-Jaden Henry; Knave of Hearts-Tristen Anding; King of Hearts-Chase Courtier; Queen of Hearts-Kayla Foster; Gryphon Julia Droll; Mock Turtle-Nathan Hayes; Ace of Hearts-Brandyn LeBouf; Red Queen-Tyler Regan; White Queen-Aimee McNeil; Train Guard, Clubs-Gage Hale; Man in Paper Suit, Hearts-Hunner Font; Goat, Clubs-Jaycie Dronnett; Lady Bug, Hearts-Nonnie Courtier; Horse, Hearts-Edward Rucks; Tweedledum-Rhys Howeth; Tweedledee-Natalye Allen; Humpty Dumpty, Hearts-Brittany Dixon; White Knight, Hearts-Brandon Curl; Leg of Mutton, Hearts-Austin Rollins.

Waverlee has enjoyed her experience this summer. “I think it’s a great thing kids can do so they can start learning [how to act]. It’s been really good.” She said she may want to continue acting, but will probably wait till she’s older before taking the lead again. It’s a lot of lines for an 8-year-old to learn.

“She doesn’t have any experience with this but, she was determined to do a good job,” said her mother.

You can see Alice in Wonderland this week only at the Orange Community Playhouse. Performances will begin at 7:37 p.m., Thursday-Saturday and 2:37 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are only $5. Call 882-9137 for reservations. The Orange Community Playhouse is located at 708 W. Division Ave., Orange.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.