- Associated Press - Friday, November 18, 2016

WALTON, Ind. (AP) - If you’re in the audience when the Lewis Cass Drama Department presents “Dorian in Wonderland” this weekend, you might feel like you’re seeing double, thanks to identical twins Kieran and Conner Claypool.

The two boys portray Tweedledee and Tweedledum in a mashup of two iconic pieces of literature that follows everything that happened after Dorothy leaves the land of Oz, according to the play’s director, Barbra Burch.

“But we had more boys than girls in the cast, so we called it Dorian in Wonderland instead,” she said. “So they’re all getting ready to leave Oz, and another tornado hits. They get swept away and end up going down the rabbit hole, where they meet many of the characters in Wonderland.”

The story combines characters and scenes from L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” and Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

The Claypool twins have acted in numerous other plays together, but they said this one is extra special. Their older brother, Dylan, 22, is the play’s assistant director. Dylan, as well as another brother, Tristan, was involved in the Lewis Cass Drama Department when he was in high school.

Although he’s acted alongside his younger brothers, this is the first time Dylan has been on the other side. And while he said helping to direct his younger brothers has been exciting, it can also present a bit of a challenge.

“Sometimes I tend to be too critical on them,” he said. “I know them, and they know me. I know I can’t hammer them the whole time because there are also other kids that need my attention. Because I’m their brother, sometimes I feel like I have them under a microscope.”

But it’s a role that Kieran and Conner said they relish. Both boys were quick to say they wouldn’t want to make acting a career choice, but they enjoy being able to transport themselves into another world, even if for just a couple hours at a time.

“Being one person after a while gets boring and wears you down,” Kieran said. “You get here, and you’re a different person. Once you leave, then you can pick up all the stuff that you left outside the doors, but for this little couple of hours, it’s peace.”

So what’s it like to act alongside your twin brother?

“You ever heard of twin telepathy?” Kieran asked. “It’s just like we’re thinking the same thing and just don’t realize it.”

Conner nodded in agreement.

“It’s really nice because you have someone there and can go home and talk about it,” he said. “You can ask how the scene was for each other, and you can also practice your lines together.”

And both brothers said playing the roles of Tweedledee and Tweedledum is actually kind of like regular life for them.

“We throw a lot of jokes at each other in the play,” Conner said, “and we do what we did when we were younger. We say, ‘I’m oldest’ or ‘I’m fastest’, and we just talk smack to each other.”

They also portray the King of Hearts and the King of Knaves.

But while the two might tease each other backstage, they understand there is a level of professionalism once they reach the stage. It’s that maturity that makes Dylan smile.

Of course, having your big brother as assistant director does have its perks. For Kieran and Conner, it comes in the way of advice, and Dylan is always quick to offer it.

“I do give them some pointers,” Dylan said. “I tell them they have a whole stage to work with, and they have to use it. I talk to them about projecting their voice and acting natural on stage. But they do a great job of portraying the characters, and so they kind of just go with it.”

And for three of the Claypool boys this weekend, going with it means putting on the best show possible for the audience. Kieran and Conner hope that means people leaving the Lewis Cass auditorium this weekend with smiles on their faces and their sides hurting from laughter.

“I hope they have a good time,” Kieran said. “I don’t want them leaving like, ‘oh, that was just special.’ I want them walking away saying, ‘you know, for a high school performance, that was pretty dang good.’”

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Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune, https://bit.ly/2fzPXkx

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Information from: Pharos-Tribune, https://www.pharostribune.com

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