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Perham kids take to the stage in a musical performance of 'Alice in Wonderland'

In just a single week, Perham kids learned an entire musical, provided through Community Education and Prairie Fire Children's Theatre. On Friday, July 29 and Saturday, July 30, they performed this play for all to see.

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Kaia Minter and Julia Cicero, directors with Prairie Fire Children's Theatre, dance across the Perham auditorium floor during the performance of "Alice in Wonderland."
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
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PERHAM — Five days of practice for two performances of a single theater production: this sounds like quite the feat. For the kids of Perham, however, it was all for fun, with a successful end.

Prairie Fire Children's Theatre, a professional theater company that tours year-round across over 200 communities throughout the upper Midwest to give children a theatrical experience right at their homes, brought this experience directly to the community.

Prairie Fire directors, Kaia Minter and Julia Cicero, came to the Perham auditorium located in the old high school on Monday, July 25 to cast and direct area children in Prairie Fire's original musical rendition of "Alice in Wonderland." After auditions on Monday, kids came in to practice the play every day, until their two public performances that very same week on Friday and Saturday, July 29-30.

"(Theater and education) are both really close to my heart," Minter said. "We just go town-to-town, do the show once (or twice) a week, and then we pack up and go to the next town and do it again."

Even though it's complicated and busy, both Minter and Cicero enjoy it, and they also believe programs such as Prairie Fire and participation in theater are important for children.

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"Honestly, I think it's a great way to build confidence," Cicero said. "(It's also great for) getting used to being in front of other people because no matter what you do, you're going to have to do that. And it's a great way to make friends. I mean, I met some of my best friends doing theater."

Perham kids seemed to love having Cicero and Minter around too — gathering around them, asking them to come back next year, and giving suggestions for future plays.

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Alice, played by McKenna Wirth, argues with the flowers during the Perham performance of "Alice in Wonderland."
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
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The White Rabbit poses — trumpet in the air — at the Prairie Fire Children's Theatre performance of "Alice in Wonderland" in Perham.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

Theater isn't all about making friends, however. It's also about the joy of performing for family and friends. On Friday and Saturday, Perham kids showed off their acting, singing, and dancing skills as they performed "Alice in Wonderland" at the old high school's auditorium. Cicero and Minter joined them on stage themselves, the former as the Queen of Hearts and the latter as the Mad Hatter.

Perham's McKenna Wirth led the show, playing Alice as she fell asleep, ending up in Wonderland about three inches tall. As she chases the ever-late White Rabbit throughout the land, she meets a series of quirky characters including a group of birds, a field of talking flowers, and even sentient cards led by the Queen of Hearts.

After songs, dances, and a tea party, Alice and the entire group of quirky characters end up at the queen's birthday party, where someone is put on trial for stealing her tarts. But no worries! No heads were lost in this production.

After a few more songs and a game of croquet, Alice reawakens, back where she was at the start of the play. At this moment, the entire cast emerged from behind the curtains to take bows and pose for photos to the sounds of clapping and cheers. From the kids' wide smiles, their enjoyment was clear.

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The flowers sit together during the Queen of Hearts' birthday party at Perham's children's production of "Alice in Wonderland."
Elizabeth Vierkan / Perham Focus
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Alice, played by McKenna Wirth, sings as she's surrounded by all the characters she met throughout her journey in the Perham children's production of "Alice in Wonderland."
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

Even though Minter and Cicero have been all over the upper Midwest with many different kids, those of the Perham community stand out to them.

"These are the funniest kids we've ever had," Minter said of the Perham children she directed throughout the week. "They're so funny, and they're so kind to each other. I just think the community is really solid — a community where they all feel safe."

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Cicero agrees that the kids they directed are absolutely hilarious. "Like, it was honestly a really good group," she said. "We had a lot of fun."

Minter thanked the Perham community for getting their kids involved in the production. She hopes they continue to act in the theater world if they'd like, because, in her opinion, they're wonderful performers.

To learn more about Prairie Fire Children's Theatre, go to prairiefirechildrenstheatre.com .

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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