NEW PALESTINE — Play director Caroline Clayton gathered students at the base of the stage at New Palestine High School earlier this week and started play practice for next month’s spring show, “Alice in Wonderland.”

The students, Clayton and others associated with the annual spring production have been rehearsing the past six weeks in preparation for the big shows. However, earlier this week, Clayton and the cast were informed, due to renovation work in and around the auditorium, the area will be shut down in two weeks, meaning they will not be able to perform the play as planned at NPHS.

“Is it disappointing? Yes, but this show is a character- and costume-driven play, so I’ve told the students to re-imagine their scenes and responsibilities with zero props and sets,” Clayton said. “Hopefully, we’ll find a place to present it and be able to go on.”

Clayton received word late Thursday night administrators found a new location where the students can put on the show — New Palestine Intermediate school. While the stage is smaller and there are no auditorium-type seats, it’s workable, Clayton said.

New Palestine Intermediate Principal Vincent Meo invited the high school group to use their facilities and Clayton and the students accepted the offer. While the plays is tentatively slated for Friday, April 28 through Sunday, April 30, Clayton noted all the final details will be figured out soon.

“I’m sure we have details to iron out, but the show will go on,” Clayton said.

The massive $49 million renovation project at NPHS has been running months behind schedule with numerous delays wreaking havoc with district plans all year long. In addition to the spring play group having to change their plans, the spring show choir events, senior night plans will need to be altered due to the renovation work.

Principal Jim Voelz noted altering plans has just become the norm this year as they try to go with the flow because of the renovation work.

“Phase three of the construction process is working on that entrance area by the auditorium and the restrooms there, and things are going to be pretty much taken to the ground,” Voelz said. “It’s just not going to be a safe place to hold any type of productions right now.

“Just like everything else we’ve done associated with this renovation project, we’ll be resilient, patient, flexible and adjust,” he added. “We’re going through a construction process and we’ve just got to continue to find a way to make things work.”

The other events affected by the renovation projects include the NPHS show choir spring performance and the always-popular senior night awards ceremony, which will have to happen elsewhere.

“Oh, most definitely, it’s going to affect our spring shows a little bit,” choir director and play set designer Stephen Beebe said.

There is no official word yet where the show choir will perform their annual spring event or where senior awards night will be held.

As for the play, Clayton noted district officials informed the performance groups at the first of the year that, due to construction, spring plans for the auditorium might be disrupted. However, official word that work being done in and around the auditorium this spring would officially close the area off didn’t happen until last week when spring rehearsal for the events were already well underway.

Clayton informed the cast of “Alice in Wonderland” Monday about the auditorium closing, and the students made the decision the play must go on.

“We’re just kind of in the process of working it all out,” Clayton said. “We can rehearse in here for the next two weeks and that’s what we’re going to do, and if the students know their lines and their parts they can perform this anywhere.”

Junior Anne Bauer, who is playing the Cheshire Cat, said she is concerned with the dates for the show because they might have to be altered which could disrupt many family plans. But, other than that, she and her castmates wanted to push forward and do the show regardless.

“My first thought was, there has to be other alternatives where we can do this play,” Bauer said. “I’m not upset because I understand this construction has to happen, but I hate that we’re only finding out now.”

Junior Kaylee Holtsclaw is playing the Caterpillar in the play. She too felt certain the show would go on, but was concerned due to the fact that her role calls for some special props and noted moving to a different stage might be tricky.

“It is a little disheartening because we’ve been working on this for a whole month and a half now and we had everything getting prepared, and now we don’t have our home to do the show,” she said. “Not having a place to have all the neat sets and props that come with a play like this is a little off.”

Janice Brittsan’s son, Jaxon, is participating in the play as Tweedledee. She was disappointed to learn the students cannot perform their show in the NPHS auditorium as planned.

“While I’m glad they’re doing some renovations on that end of the building, it just feels like poor planning on the administration’s part,” she said. “They knew this show was coming, even last year, so why didn’t they find a place and plan ahead better?”

Voelz noted with so many delays because of supplies and other issues, they’ve often had to adapt on short notice over the past several years to accommodate the renovation work.

“In the end, I know our kids are going to do a great job and work with this,” Voelz said. “Fortunately we have not had to cancel anything yet, and I believe this time we will find a way to make it work.”