For more than two months, fifth-grader Jacie Temple has been practicing not being herself.
On Friday night, she'll step whole-heartedly into the shoes of Alice, a little girl who must contend with the crazy characters in an unfamiliar and sometimes puzzling place.
"I just try to think about if I was a person in a new world, what I'd act like," said Jacie, who is among 45 Hayden students in grades three through 12 who will perform "Looking Glass Land: The Misadventures of a Girl Named Alice."
The play will be at 7 p.m. Friday in the Hayden High School auditorium. It is the second annual performance by Class Act Productions, a nonprofit performing arts program led by Hayden Valley Elementary School teacher Kathy Deepe.
The work of organizing an all-school play was apparent at a busy rehearsal last week, where Deepe and assistant director Sandy Meade fine-tuned scenes while coordinating makeup, costumes and set details.
Even so, Deepe and Meade know they'll cry when it's all over.
"I love this. It's my passion," Deepe said after a rehearsal. "I love theater. ... I think it touches kids differently who have talents in that area (acting)."
The play adds an entertaining twist to the traditional Alice in Wonderland story, mixing in nursery rhymes and scenes that include a train full of tourists, a baseball game and a trio of singers who sing a cappella to Alice about her responsibilities.
"There are some parts in this that I can't help but bust out laughing," Meade said.
Every student who auditioned for the play in November had an opportunity for a part. Other students have been busy with paintbrushes and hammers, constructing the play's colorful set with the help of Susan Koehler, who runs an after-school art program.
"That was one of my goals -- having kids do more creation of the set," Deepe said. "That's been really neat."
Hayden residents have donated materials for costumes and sets and offered their time to help with the production. In addition to Koehler, Lynn Laman has been sewing and gluing costumes.
The Booster Club gave funds to the production, helping to pay for script books and royalty fees.
"It's truly becoming a community play," Deepe said. "It has involved so many people."
High school senior Hannah Williams, who plays the White Queen, and sophomore Lydia Murray, who plays the Red Queen, have enjoyed helping younger students with their acting skills.
"I'm really surprised," Murray said. "I think all the little kids got their lines memorized before us."
Memorizing lines has been the biggest challenge for Jacie, who was just starting to get nervous last week.
"I just think to myself that I'm going to mess up," she said.
The interest in acting among younger students bodes well for the high school theater program, Williams said.
"I love it. It's really great to see all the middle and elementary school kids getting into it," she said, adding that theater is a good opportunity for students to participate in nonathletic activities.
There will be no door charge at Friday's performance, but donations will be appreciated to help cover costs of the play.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares, call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.