Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Arts/Entertainment

November 7, 2013

A youthful spin for 'Alice in Wonderland'

AYS peers through looking glass for theater debut

Here’s one theater opening Andover audiences won’t want to be late for.

Andover Youth Services, which recently took over the fledgling local performance group, TheatreWorks, is staging the junior version of the whimsical Disney classic “Alice in Wonderland.”

The play, which features young cast members from every elementary and middle school in Andover, invites audiences to jump down the rabbit hole and join Alice, the Mad Hatter and the rest of the crew on their magical adventures.

It comes to World War I Memorial Auditorium next to Doherty Middle School, 50 Bartlet St., Andover, for three performances this weekend.

“This show is particularly fun with the bright colors, familiar music and unique costumes and characters,” says local mother Kim Sousa, of Andover, whose daughter, Farrah, is in the show.

“Alice” is the first production since Andover Youth Services assumed the reigns of TheatreWorks, which was started by three local women who were veterans of Merrimack Valley Jr. Theater.

AYS Director Bill Fahey recruited Amy Wilkins Blanchette of Andover, who is well know in the local theater community, to direct the show.

Blanchette, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater from Elon University in North Carolina, is a proud alumna of Merrimack Valley Jr. Theater. She says that she is flattered she was tapped for the job.

“I’m so happy to be able to give back to the community that gave so much to me,” Blanchette says in a release.

Blanchette, who was last seen on stage herself in this fall’s ACT Theater Company production of “Les Miserables” at the Collins Center in Andover, says she finds herself channeling MJT Artistic Director Josie Walker during rehearsals.

“I constantly hear the legendary Mrs. Walker in my head when I work with the kids, but I really wish I could whistle like her when getting the kids’ attention,” says Blanchette, whose daughter, Madelyn, is in the cast.

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