Fantasy fans were provided an exciting escape from reality Thursday evening during Reiffton School’s 2014 Artist-in-Residence presentation. The production, titled “Down the Rabbit Hole: Into Other Realms” blended elements and excerpts from Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and other popular tales to examine themes of fantasy versus reality and appreciation for one’s family and home. The program aimed to give participating students a taste of professional theatre through hands-on experience.
“We have 68 kids involved this year,” said Reiffton School Librarian, Lindsay Stilwell. “They had a hand in helping with everything from making costumes to designing sets.”
Additionally, the artwork of Ahna Romanski, a sixth-grade student from Governor Mifflin School District, was displayed in conjunction with the presentation. Romanski was invited to contribute her work- which also delved into similar themes of fantasy and magic- to further enhance the program’s otherworldly aesthetic.
Alana Rader served as the program’s overseeing Artist-in-Residence. Rader, a former Berks County resident, is a classically-trained actor, singer and musician with a BFA in Musical Theatre from Kent State University.
“It really has been a pleasure working with these kids,” said Rader as she addressed the audience. “They have been very enthusiastic.”
Rader has performed all over the United States in productions ranging from the work of Shakespeare to Shaw to Sondheim. As an educator, she has worked with children ranging from pre-school to college age levels.
“Things have been a success,” said Principal Greg Fries as he helped introduce the production. “As I talk with other faculty about [the project], the one thing I keep hearing is ‘we need to do it again next year.’”