A trip to Wonderland

Published 11:21 pm Friday, January 26, 2018

Sibley students head down the rabbit hole for week of theater

Despite Monday’s snow day, Sibley Elementary School students have been working away at a fairy tale so they can tell guardians and community members, “Watch me.”

Approximately 60 Sibley third, fourth- and fifth-graders spent the week learning and practicing an original adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland” with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre, a touring theater company that sends sets, costumes and two professional actors and directors to prepare a musical adaptation of classic stories. They performed twice: once Friday evening, and once this morning.

Halverson Elementary School students also prepared a show with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre this week.

“I think it is another experience for the kids who maybe don’t excel in the classroom at, maybe specifically, academics. It’s a chance for them to excel at something that, you know, we can’t offer every day in the classroom,” Sibley third-grade teacher Kristin Kyllo Jorgenson said.

Kyllo Jorgenson serves as the liaison between Prairie Fire and Sibley parents and students.

Kyllo Jorgenson said Prairie Fire Children’s Theater is good at casting students in roles they are comfortable with so children are OK with their roles in the production.

“Being on stage for a lot of these kids is a really big deal,” she said.

Ramsie Enser performs as Alice in the student production of “Alice in Wonderland.” – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

She said during the week, she sees children transition from feeling very vulnerable to having a good time performing.

“It gives the students confidence in themselves that I don’t know they’ve had a chance to find before,” Kyllo Jorgenson said.

For instance, there’s Sibley fifth-grader Ahnnalie Hill, who signed up for her first year of Prairie Fire this year because her friends were doing it.

“I’ve always been scared to put myself out there, but I just decided to try to do  it,” Hill said.

Hill plays a dodo in the musical. She said the first day working with Prairie Fire gave her the courage to audition for a speaking part in the school play.

“I thought I would be scared and nervous … but it kind of surprised me that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to learn (the lines),” Hill said.

The flowers perform during Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland” with Sibley Elementary School students Friday at Southwest Middle School. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Fellow Sibley fifth-grader Ramsie Enser plays Alice, and she said that while a big role adds a little extra stress, she is enjoying herself with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre.

“It’s fun,” she said. “They make you laugh and everything. They don’t make you feel like you’re scared to go and play.”

Fifth-grader Bailey Wood, who fills the role of the caterpillar and has also performed in theater outside of school, said she also liked the atmosphere she has found being part of the production.

“I just know everyone,” Wood said. “It’s like everyone from my school, and I feel more comfortable.”

Plus, Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre is another chance to explore her passion.

“If I had to choose one thing in the world, I’d choose acting,” she said.

What’s more, several more third-graders chose acting this year, Kyllo Jorgenson said. Approximately half of the students performing for Sibley will be third-graders. Third-graders also have more speaking roles this year than she has seen in the past, though Kyllo Jorgenson said she wasn’t sure whether that is related to their numbers or not.

“I think it’s pretty amazing what third- through fifth-grade kids can do in a span of five days,” she said.

Maddee Anderson performs as the White Rabbit in the student production of “Alice in Wonderland.” – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

‘Alice in Wonderland’ cast

Alice: Ramsie Enser

White Rabbit: Maddee Anderson

Caterpillar: Bailey Wood

Duchess: New New

Cook: Kallie Studier

Cheshire Cat: Nevaeh Wacholz

March Hare: Eddie Enser

Dormouse: Lilly Benschoter

King of Hearts: Hayden Lowe

Jack of Hearts: Connor Hanson

Joker: Hanna Austinson

Tweedle Dee: McKenzie Fields

Tweedle Dum: Hunter Erickson

Tweedle Dummer: Annamarie Henderson

Queen of Hearts: Shannon Fields

Mr. Dodgson/Mad Hatter: Will Rutkowski

Dodo: Ahnnalie Hill

Birds: Sage Iverson, Samantha Baltazar, Bridget Pestorious, Carly Panzer, Nate Barclay, Ashlyn Fynbo, Claire Stockwell, Danika Jensen, Maya Richards, Skylar Goskeson

Roses: Lilly Baas, Madison Mann

Gladiolas: Bryn Westrum, Katelyn Schmidt

Daffydills: Danica Pestorious, Elisa Brink

Impatiens: Aurora Helms, Anneliese Martinez

Pansies: Zakorah Prestegard, Rama Abuhaundeh

Creeping Charlies: Taylor Kloke, Rowan Flo

Shrinking Violet: Ellie Halvorsen

Baby’s Breath: Charlie Schroeder

Spades: Maddie Quintana, Aidan Halvorsen, Emma Herfindahl, Vivihana Cline, Sophie Enser

Hearts: Angel Ware, Addie Isaacson, Jocelyn Stoops, Makayla Baltazar

Diamonds: John Arriaga, Megan Becker, Stella Skogheim, Kylie Wagner, Brooklyn Anderson

Clubs: Ryanna Roberts, Layla Prestholt, Destiney Staloch, Jayla Klein

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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