During Parents Weekend, VegSOUP put on a magical and witty production of Lewis Carrol's "Alice in Wonderland" - the play adapted by Eva LeGallienne and Florida Friebus, and directed by Geneseo senior Emma Leigh.
Leigh petitioned her concept for the play in May of last year and began working on turning it into the final production. The set - a grayscale storybook world with cartoon-like props and projections - all came out of her personal creative vision.
The audience was seated very close to the stage, allowing characters to move in and out of the crowd. The scene changes were accompanied by flashing lights and surreal music as the stagehands worked. Every bizarre moment was truly well thought out.
"I really credit Emma for having a vision of what she wanted this madness to be," said senior Oliver Riley, animation designer.
Riley, who usually performs on stage, played the character of the Cheshire Cat from behind the scenes. He ran film of Leigh's cat, Oliver, through multiple filters then did the same with his own voice, combining the two flawlessly for the production. Riley's work provided a unique and imaginative interpretation of the well-known character.
The entire play followed in this spirit of turning a familiar story into something fresh and original. The audience connected with the 11-year-old Alice, played by sophomore Emilei Cantrell, as she traveled through the nonsensical "Looking Glass World" - growing and shrinking, taking trains along a chessboard and dining with characters who believe it is always teatime. In a backward world full of word plays and puns, the logic of these mad characters is somehow undeniable.
Cantrell described her character as "very curious and very well-mannered with a tendency to be stubborn and sassy."
"She's a lot like me," Cantrell said. She explained that the interaction with the audience was unusual but extremely enjoyable, and that the best part was watching their expressions and reactions.
The energy backstage after Friday's 8 p.m. show was just as high as it had been on stage; it was clear that both cast and crew were ready for the 11 p.m. performance. Cantrell said that she looked forward to rehearsal every day, making the rough days go more smoothly. The opinion seemed unanimous: no one wanted the shows to be over.
According to sophomore Katie Dana, who played the White Queen, this is the closest cast she has ever been a part of.
"To me, the most important part was making so many new friends," Dana said. "A lot of the time, casts just say goodbye after the performances, but I can tell we're going to stick together."
"I'm really proud of everyone for putting so much effort and so much time into this … I'm really happy with the environment," Leigh said. She described the environment as the most cohesive, respectful, loving, supportive and creative one she has ever worked in.
All of this hard work undoubtedly paid off; "Alice in Wonderland" sold more tickets than any other VegSOUP performance, selling out every night.
The show was dedicated to Oliver, Leigh's cat, who passed away two days after his filming.