"Curiouser and Curiouser," based on the life and times of author Lewis Carroll, will be performed by the Tony Award-winning National Theatre of the Deaf on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 7 and 8 at Weber State University.
The production, with a cast of 11 (including 11-year-old deaf actress Jorjan Lynn Jeter), combines two of Carroll's beloved classics - "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" - and intertwines them with the true-life stories of both Carroll and the girl who inspired the two masterpieces.Carroll was actually Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a deacon and math teacher at Oxford University's Christ Church and a pioneer in portrait photography. One of his models was Alice Liddell, a 10-year-old neighbor who prodded Dodgson to write down the tales he told her and her sisters. The books that evolved have entranced millions of readers for 130 years with their magical journeys into the world of the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Jabberwock, Tweedledum and Tweedledee and Alice's unforgettable tea party.
NTD will also be in residence at WSU, presenting master classes for students in the area, a special student matinee with the Little Theatre of the Deaf and a lecture/demonstration as part of WSU's weekly convocation series on Nov. 7.
"The NTD packs more imagination into five minutes than some companies put into their whole productions," stated the Washington Post in a review of one of the company's performances.
On the road, sixth-grader Jeter is tutored by fellow actor and former teacher Andy Vasnick, who plays Louis Carroll.
"Curiouser and Curiouser" was directed by Adrian Blue, who is also deaf and who has been associated with NTD for almost 20 years as an actor, director, translator and teacher. The production was adapted for the stage by another NTD veteran, Larry Arrick.
Performance times and details for the various NTD-related activities on campus are:
- "Curiouser and Curiouser" at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 7 and 8 in the Austad Auditorium of WSU's Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $15 for the general public, $12 for senior citizens and $7 for children (4 to 12 years of age). Group discounts are also available through the Cultural Affairs Office (626-6570). There will also be a $7 "student rush" discount ticket, pending seat availability, 30 minutes prior to curtain time. For reservations, contact the Dee Events Center box office at 626-8500 or 1-800-978-8457.
- Convocation lecture/demonstration at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the Shepherd Ballroom of WSU's Union Building. Free to the public.
- Little Theatre of the Deaf's student matinee ("America's Wild, Wild Wits") at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the Austad Auditorium. Tickets will be $2 for elementary, junior high and high school students. Interested groups can contact David or Kristen Rowell in WSU's cultural affairs office at 626-6570 for details.
- WHILE MOST KIDS her age are riding a school bus every morning, young Jeter is on a cross-country tour bus with 10 adult fellow actors. The Detroit, Mich., youngster, who has taken part in "Miracle on 34th Street" and other holiday productions at her school, is accompanied on this national tour by her aunt and theatrical role model, Camille L. Jeter, who is NTD's artistic director.
Camille herself was inspired to become a professional actress at the same age as Jorjan when NTD brought a touring show to her hometown. Both Jeters are performing in "Curiouser and Curiouser."
Jorjan is attending the same school from which Camille graduated: the Michigan School for the Deaf. Jorjan has been a member of the school's own theatrical troupe, Singing Hands, since 1990.
Throughout the year that NTD is touring, Jorjan keeps in touch with her sixth-grade classmates, sending them regular reports and e-mail postcards from the road. She is also sharing her experiences with kids worldwide via several online "chat rooms"set up during the tour.
When not at school or on stage, Jorjan can be found pursuing such hobbies as inline skating, basketball, dancing and art, or playing with her sisters, Juistine and Jasmine. She lives in a total-signing household with her parents, John and Jeanie Jeter, who are also deaf.
- UPCOMING: The next event in WSU's Cultural Affairs Series will be "Behind the Broken Words" starring Anthony Zerbe ("The Young Riders" and "Cool Hand Luke") and Roscoe Lee Browne ("Babe" and "The Bill Cosby Show") on Feb. 3 in Peery's Egyptian Theatre in downtown Ogden. Many of WSU's theater and performing arts events will be moving into the restored Egyptian while the Browning Center undergoes a top-to-bottom renovation.