Wheelock Family Theatre is a professional theatre associated with Actors' Equity Association. Many of our casts also include children and teens, most of whom are selected from students in our classes and workshops.
Maritza Bostic (Alice)
As with any actor I have my usual list of concerns when attending auditions. Am I right for the part? Did I pick the right song? Do I look young/old enough for the role? Does it matter if this character is African American? Now of course, there are shows where race is essential to the telling of the story. But, as I got older, I started to differentiate those stories from the roles that just happened to be originated by someone who was Caucasian. And to me that meant there was no reason to feel like I couldn't do a part because the character didn't traditionally look like me.
After appearing as a Dynamite in WFT's recent production of Hairspray I was ecstatic to be gifted with Lewis Carroll's iconic character Alice. I remember not knowing whether to cry or scream when I found out. I was nervous because this would be my first major lead role in a professional theatre. Ultimately, I cried because I had been validated for who I am: an actor.
The Wheelock Family Theatre is the perfect place for someone to try something new. Wheelock is about bringing theatre to people of all backgrounds. And what enhances their ability to do that so wonderfully is by producing shows filled with diverse casts. It is so great being part of a theatre company that fosters inclusion in the audience, backstage, and in front of the lights.
Russell Garrett* (Mad Hatter)
I have been a theatre artist for many years now and one thing that never gets tiring is seeing and feeling an audience respond to a live performance. That becomes even more exciting when I realize that many of the patrons in the audience are young people who may not have seen a lot of theatre; or perhaps the show I'm performing in may be the first live show they have ever seen. Wheelock Family Theatre provides that for so many young people and their families.
Alice marks my second time performing at WFT. I previously played Uncle Archibald in The Secret Garden and although I was a small part of that show, the engagement and joy of the audience was palpable. Here was a well-known story, primarily about children, who's telling rested so much on the young actors' shoulders. The audience was spellbound, not only by the story, but the fact that they were seeing kids their own age bringing it to life right in front of their eyes. This was further validated on days the red carpet was rolled out in the lobby and countless children were given the opportunity to meet the actors who had moved them and have a personal moment with them. It was joyous and a little humbling to realize how transformative theatre can be.
Though that was my only experience working with WFT (up until now) I have seen countless productions here. The spell cast is always the same: a story that can appeal to both young and old and an approach that continues to de-mystify our perceptions of color and ability. WFT has always held fast to their mission of non-traditional casting and has led the way here in Boston to provide wonderful opportunities for adults and children alike to not only take the stage playing roles they may not play elsewhere, but for audiences to see stories that reach beyond color and race. The stories are about people.
Alexandra Nader* (Cook)
It's been 5 years since I've set foot on the WFT stage. As a child, the theater was a safe haven. A place that I could express myself in a theatrical and creative way; a luxury that wasn't available to me in other places. Returning now I can see how those formative years at WFT shaped the person and performer I am today.
My first show at Wheelock was Beauty and the Beast in 2007. I vividly remember the first day of rehearsal. We went around the table and introduced ourselves and our characters. I was playing a Spoon. At the end of the table sat a beautiful African American woman named Angela Williams, she was the last to stand and say, "Hi everyone, I'm playing the role of Belle". My eyes widened. I had never seen such unconventional casting. I had always dreamed of playing parts like Belle, but as a biracial child, I just never thought it was done. WFT instilled in me, at a very young age, the idea that social conventions could be bent and that theater was an art available to all. I credit my experiences at WFT with the later decision to pursue acting as a profession.
After Beauty and the Beast I went on to do two more Wheelock shows, Peter Pan and Seussical the Musical. After that, I moved to New York City to attend The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. I graduated in 2012 and went on to tour with TheaterWorksUSA, which made me a proud member of AEA. I continued to do small works throughout the New York area and currently produce and co-create a webseries called "The Under 5ers" (www.theunder5ers.com).
I am thrilled to return to Wheelock, especially with this production of Alice. Beyond my history with WFT is a history with this show and its creator Andrew Barbato. Andrew and I have known each other for over 5 years and appeared together in Peter Pan and Seussical together at WFT. In 2008 I was asked to come to Andrew's house and sing "some stuff" he had written inspired by Alice in Wonderland. That summer a group of kids gathered in a basement and performed the first installment of Alice. Creating with that group of young artists is one of my fondest memories. I am grateful that WFT and Andrew have allowed me to take this journey once again, down the rabbit hole.
Members of Actors' Equity Association appearing in photos on this website: Russell Garrett and Alexandra Nader.