The nonsense tale of "Alice in Wonderland" will come to life this weekend at the Mishler Theatre, Altoona.
Dozens of local children will act out Lewis Carroll's story, written in 1865, of a little girl who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world where she meets a caterpillar, a Cheshire cat, a mad hatter, the Queen of Hearts and an assortment of other peculiar characters.
Missoula Children's Theatre, based in Montana, is producing and directing the "Alice in Wonderland" musical, which will be presented at 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday.
Missoula chose the cast of 50 to 60 local children five days before the performance. Teaching the children the script in five days isn't as hard as it would seem, Chelle Robinson, Missoula tour liaison, said.
"The kids really do a good job of learning. They're like sponges. It's all about repetition. That's the way they do it," Robinson said. "The kids really do learn and they get to be stars of the show."
The children in the show are in kindergarten through 12th grade and are cast in various roles, depending on their age and ability. Usually about 100 kids audition for the parts in Missoula plays and about 50 are chosen.
"They've been doing this for years. They know how to make it work," Kate Shaffer, Blair County Arts Foundation director, said.
The touring company brings along costumes, props, scenery and makeup.
"Everything but the kids," Robinson said.
Missoula productions are usually well attended, Shaffer said. People love to see what the children can do.
"They utilize local talent, and everyone's interested in seeing their own kids and families," she said.
Another draw is Missoula's use of popular children's stories. Missoula sticks pretty close to Lewis Carroll's storyline of "Alice in Wonderland," originally named "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."
The difference will be in the music, which is different than the music you would find in the Disney version.
"It's just fun music. It's peppy," Robinson said.
The show should appeal to all ages, Shaffer said.
"People are certainly familiar with the story," she said. "It has a lot of zany characters. They're really a lot of fun and they really allow the kids to showcase their talent."
"People should come to support the local youth and see the amazing things they can do and pull off in five days' time," Robinson said.