Cast members from Agape Theater Company’s production of “Alice in Wonderland” rehearse at St. Roch Catholic School on the southside of Indianapolis. Agape will stage the show Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Art for Lawrence Theater at the Fort.


This is one rabbit hole you’re going to want to tumble down.

In the hands of some of the area’s talented young actors, the story of “Alice in Wonderland” takes on new life. Certainly, the beloved characters of the classic tale are all there — the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat, and of course, Alice herself.

But filtered through the prism of modern youth, the story can offer a unique perspective on finding your place in the world.

“Part of what makes ‘Alice in Wonderland’ such a beautiful story is, on some level, it’s about finding your individuality and where you fit,” said Mia Joelle, assistant director for Agape Theater Company’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

The students of Agape Theater Company’s theater practicum class have put their spin on “Alice in Wonderland” and are ready to present it to the community. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Greenwood-based theater troupe will stage the show at the Arts for Lawrence Theater at the Fort.

“When a story has been told so many times, it comes down to how it’s being told and who’s doing the telling,” said Ben Frederick, director of the show. “The way this show was written, there’s a lot more humor in it. There’s some audience interaction, and a lot more interesting storytelling bits than just ‘Alice in Wonderland’ the play.”

Nearly everyone is familiar with the story of “Alice in Wonderland.” But those who have spent months putting the show together think that this version offers an entertaining opportunity to look at the world.

“A lot of times, we forget that ‘Alice in Wonderland’ is written to be a kids’ perspective on the adult world — how everything looks a little bit ridiculous,” Frederick said. “The whole point of this show is emphasizing that all of these characters are in this colorful, crazy, wacky world, and they don’t even realize it, really. None of them really appreciate their world except Alice, the newcomer to Wonderland.

“So we want to remind people: slow down, take your time and don’t forget to enjoy this sometimes weird and wacky world around you. Because it’s not forever.”

Agape Theater Company is a nonprofit organization committed to making a positive impact in our community by providing quality, family-friendly theater productions at a budget friendly price. The troupe was founded by Kathy Phipps, a theater educator for more than 40 years; her intention was to give area youth the opportunity for challenging yet fun theater experiences on the southside.

What started as a theater ministry of Our Lady of Greenwood Catholic Church has grown to become an award-winning program. Their production of “Les Misérables” won the Most Impressive Youth Theater Production of 2017 Award, while the production of “The Tempest” won the Most Impressive Youth Theater Production of 2019 Award.

The theater practicum class was created as a fun and safe opportunity for students ages 8 to 18 to grow in their understanding of theater arts. New actors will learn about the basics of stagecraft and acting, while more experienced students will continue to develop their performing arts skills.

Starting in January, the class auditioned, rehearsed, and performed the non-musical production of “Alice in Wonderland,” allowing them to focus on character development, authentic acting, storytelling, and teamwork, according to the group’s website.

Students would meet for 2 1/2 hours on Monday nights at St. Roch Catholic School on the southside.

“The nice thing about the theater practicum class is it not only teaches them to do a show, but it teaches them how to make a prop, how to respond as an actor. I really like that in the context of a show that’s so fun, because every week, you get to see them come and be excited about learning new things,” Joelle said.

One of the lessons was helping the students not only think about their characters, but themselves.

“Something we’ve worked with a lot of them on is, figuring out who their characters are, but also who they are as actors,” Joelle said.

Over the evolution of the show, Frederick has been consistently surprised by how often the cast has made the play their own.

“The kids have just taken it and absolutely ran with it. The timing, the jokes and the way the kids execute them and make them land, it’s incredible. Some of the funniest parts of the show are things the kids came up with,” he said.


“Alice in Wonderland”

What: The classic story told by a 28-person cast, with actors ranging from 8 to 14, in this production by Agape Theater Company.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Arts for Lawrence Theater at the Fort, 8920 Otis Ave, Indianapolis

Tickets and information: