by MELISSA AVRIL HARRIS for OLY ARTS
In search of an escape this spring season? Take a trip down the rabbit hole with Studio West Dance Academy’s production of Alice in Wonderland. The classic children’s tale of a little girl who ventures into a world filled with tardy white rabbits, mystical caterpillars, and fearsome Queens is, according to co-director Stephanie Wood-Ennett, a story “people cherish — both adults and children. It’s full of surprises.”
With an ensemble of immensely gifted students, Wood-Ennett can’t hide how impressed she is with the talent they have in this production. “It’s going to be exceptional,” she confided. The Queen of Hearts is played by Naomi de Jesus with an intense ferocity. “This role is great for her because she gets to throw all of her energy into the fullness of the character,” said Wood-Ennett.
Playing the Queen of Hearts offered de Jesus an opportunity that, in her own words, allowed her to “break traditional roles where you have to be perfect. In this one, you get to be fierce, almost angry. It’s great to do so many different types of characters.”
Another of Wood-Ennett’s protégés, Cole McMason, returns to his ballet roots after venturing south to the Oregon Ballet Theater (OBT), where he played a number of roles in their production of Alice (in Wonderland). Upon returning from OBT, McMason credited Wood-Ennett for preparing him “perfectly” to make the jump into the professional world of ballet. “Stephanie has been my teacher since I first started. She’s incredibly kind and pushes you to where she knows you can be.”
Audiences will have the chance to see both de Jesus and McMason the first weekend in May when Alice in Wonderland opens at the Washington Center Main Stage. Assures Wood-Ennett, “It’s the perfect family show — a fun and really engaging ballet to bring your kid to.”
Alice in Wonderland
Washington Center for the Performing Arts
512 Washington St. SE, Olympia
7 p.m. Thursday, May 3
7 p.m. Friday, May 4
1 p.m. & 5 p.m. Saturday, May 5, with a Special Event: Alice’s Tea Party 4 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
$16-$28 (Student Senior, Youth and Group discounts available)