Alice By Heart Logo

The community is invited to see “Alice By Heart” at the Mello Center, which kicked off Nov. 24, and continues its run Dec. 2 at 7:30pm and Dec. 3 at 2pm. 

This free, open-to-the-public performance is among the first productions of “Alice By Heart” outside of New York City.

We spoke with Director Edie Flores about “Alice By Heart,” working with youth, and his passion for theater and music.

What’s ‘Alice By Heart’ all about?

It takes place in 1941, after the London Blitz of World War II. Teen Alice Spencer and her best friend Alfred are forced to take shelter in a London underground tube station. They escape into the book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” “Alice by Heart” offers real-world content for youth in a way they can take in and apply to our current world. It also highlights the importance of the arts in finding hope even in times where it feels like there’s none left. It offers something for people of all ages and could be used as a platform to spark conversation with younger kids about real life events. 

What’s exciting about this particular production?

Through our connection with Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s Expanded Learning, admission is free for everyone. Projects like this make art more accessible to our community. People can just show up to support the arts and have a good time seeing a musical with a talented cast of local high school students.

I’m excited because I’m a huge fan of musician Duncan Sheik and writer Steven Sater. Not long after “Alice By Heart,” which premiered in 2019, I learned they were putting out the rights for the show for a limited time to schools and community theaters. Now, I get to work with my friends and local high school students to make it happen. It’s a great contemporary piece, our cast consists of students from various schools, and we feature a live orchestra. The music is modern and can hopefully attract new audiences, even those not as invested in musical theater.

It’s a wonderful thing to see how the students collaborate and support each other. Students have a voice in everything from set design to costumes and stage blocking. That’s our secret sauce.

How did you get into your work in the arts?

I only got a little music and art in elementary and middle school. In high school, I was a skater kid who used to make fun of the theater kids selling tickets in class. Then, in my junior year, our class saw “A Christmas Carol,” directed by Kip Allert, and I thought, “Oh, that’s kind of cool.” I was interested in learning what theater is all about. I auditioned for the spring musical and landed my first role as Bernardo in “West Side Story.”

Growing up in Watsonville and being a first-generation future college graduate in my family, I felt pressure to pursue “The American Dream” versus finding what I absolutely loved to do. I spent a year soul searching at Cabrillo College then I took a musical theater class with Katherine Adkins, and it reassured my love for the arts so I decided to pursue theater and music. Being on this journey, I’ve gotten to do some awesome stuff. I was a Teaching Artist in the Arts Council’s Mariposa Arts program, I’ve done background work for Netflix, performed with theaters from the Central Coast to the Bay Area, performed in a national tour, premiered shows in San Francisco, and recently worked as a small part in a soon-to-be-released film where I worked alongside a famous actress. I’m so grateful that my family supports absolutely anything I want to do as long as it makes me happy.

Information about ‘Alice By Heart’

“Alice by Heart” is a musical with music by Duncan Sheik and lyrics by Steven Sater. The musical is inspired by Lewis Caroll’s 1865 novel, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” and had its first full production at the MCC Theater in New York City in 2019. The local production team includes Director Edie Flores, Music Director Mickey McGushin, Choreographer Katherine Bonn, Costume Designer Yvonne Bowen, and Lighting Designer Dale Thompson.

Free and open to the public: Dec 2 at 7:30pm and Dec. 3 at 2pm. Doors open 30 minutes before start time. Follow and learn more on Instagram @wildcatztheatre.

—Arts Council Santa Cruz County

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