The Cheshire cat makes its way around the stage and into the audience, seeming to appear and disappear at will.
Its wide, toothy grin gives it an air of mischievousness as the cat engages Alice in conversation following her tumble down a rabbit hole and into Wonderland in New London Theatre's latest production.
Black and white separate reality on one side of the stage from the vibrant colors of fantasy on the other as a professor reads Lewis Carroll's beloved book to a group of children, who pause between his recitations to watch as the story unfolds before the audience's eyes, complete with all the colorful characters of Wonderland.
"It's a really magical show," said 13-year-old Caleigh Derreberry, one of three girls who play the role of Alice. "I think everyone needs to slip into Wonderland at some point."
Elizabeth Parmer, one of two performers taking a turn as the grinning Cheshire cat, said she expected the play to be more similar to the sing-song Disney film version of "Alice in Wonderland" before reading through the script.
"It's a lot different," she said, "but it's a lot of fun. It's very punny. There's definitely a lot of puns in the show and we personally love it because we go home and start repeating the lines and people who don't know what it is look at us like we're crazy."
Crazy is key for Trip Collins, who plays the Mad Hatter. The local attorney is also the show sponsor for "Alice in Wonderland."
Collins said audiences can expect spontaneity during the infamous tea party scene in which he and the March Hare, joined by a sleepy, little doormouse, ask unanswerable riddles, recite nonsensical poetry and frequently switch places at the table, eventually driving a frustrated Alice away from their party.
"We're all kind of just walking out there going, 'You know what, I don't know what's going to happen tonight,'" Collins said. "We'll read the lines but we'll read them based upon what's happening, we'll moved based on what's happening and I think you get a really good energy that feeds back and forth between the actors themselves and also with the audience. It's a fun scene to do."
On April 2, Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer is set to make a guest appearance as one of the colorful characters of Wonderland.
For more information on the show, call 770-559-1484 or visit www.newlondontheatre.org.