, Muskogee, OK

November 8, 2012

MCT actors give energy to ‘Alice’

By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Correspondent

— By Travis Sloat

Phoenix Correspondent

Connor Lynch, dressed as a modern-day White Rabbit, gives the distinct impression that his energy onstage carries over into real life, but he said that wasn’t the case.

“I don’t have this much energy at home,” Lynch said. “I usually save it for the stage. I’ve been acting since the second grade, and my favorite part is being in front of everyone and making them happy with my performance.”

Lynch, 12, is a sixth-grader at Tony Goetz Elementary. He has starred in nine plays for the Muskogee Children’s Theatre, which is putting on its rendition of “Alice in Wonderland” this weekend at the Benjamin Franklin Science Academy. Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Charles Mutch, the director of the play, said this version of the play has more modern costuming, but you can still tell who each character is.

“It is based on the original,” Mutch said. “The premise is the same; we just wanted to update the costumes. We’ve done the costumes, the props, and the rehearsals all in just nine weeks. We’re excited.”

Mutch has been the director of MCT for four years. He has 147 kids in the troupe, and usually averages between 40-50 for each play. This is the second play they’ve done this year, the first being “Charlotte’s Web.”

Mackenzie Conaway, who got the lead in “Charlotte’s Web,” is playing the Queen of Hearts in “Alice and Wonderland.” She said she is extremely ready for the performance.

“I’ve been acting for two years now,” Conaway said. “My first time on stage, I got the lead part. It’s all sort of fallen into place since then. I enjoy acting. I understand that it’s a small chance, but if I work hard I like to think I could make a career out of this.”

For Mutch, this is the dream he tries to bring to reality for the youth of Muskogee. He moves from one area to another during dress rehearsal, making small modifications as needed. He commands the attention of the kids, and expresses immense confidence in each one.

Mutch said he’d like to see the troupe keeping growing, and he doesn’t turn anyone down who wants to be involved.

“I’ve had kids that stutter badly, who are shy, and pre-kindergarten kids who can’t even read,” Mutch said. “But when they get on that stage, they turn into stars and become entirely different people.”

Mutch’s daughter, Lorelei, got the lead part of Alice in this weekend’s play. She said she has been acting since age 3, and she gives the credit to her father.

“This is my first time in a lead role,” Mutch said. “My dad can be tougher on me sometimes, but I’m used to it. I’m really excited and really nervous at the same time, and I’m trying to channel that into good thoughts for the performance.”

Landis Webb, 12, who is playing The Mad Hatter, said it was his dream to star in a movie with Eddie Murphy one day.

“I’ve been acting for a long time,” Webb said. “I like the part of The Mad Hatter the best. He’s the only person I’d ever have a real tea party with. You know it wouldn’t be all girly.”

If you go

WHAT: “Alice in Wonderland” performed by the Muskogee Children’s Theatre.

WHEN: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

WHERE: Benjamin Franklin Science Academy Theater, 300 Virgil Mathews Drive.

ADMISSION: $5 for adults, $3 for students grade 12 and younger.