It is no wonder Visionary College has selected Disney’s Aladdin Jr. as its Teen Musical Theatre year-end production.
The 70-minute truncated version of the popular hit film is loaded with fantastical adventures using street chases, disguises, conniving treachery, a flying carpet and a few spirited escapes.
And these imagination-fuelled exploits are all courtesy of a rebel princess, a bold street urchin, an evil vizier and a powerful Genie.
“I have always loved the movie. It’s so accessible to a wide variety of audiences,” says director Curtis Labelle. He loves the adrenalin rush of building a show and has already directed three Visionary productions: Guys and Dolls, Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella.
“Plus one of our parents had some costumes. She always goes to Disneyland and buys Halloween costumes for her kids and she loaned us the Genie’s costume.”
In case you have not heard of this pop culture phenomenon, Disney loosely appropriated the Middle Eastern folk tale from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights.
“What people relate to is the characters – not that it’s set in Arabic times. It’s quite theatrical, every song is the same as the full-length musical and the words are the same. What we’re trying to do is harness the characters in the cartoon and show the actors can portray them.”
Starring in the lead roles are Kurt Drachenberg (Aladdin), Kirsten Jensen (Jasmine), Rebeka Penconek (Sultan), Jafar (Joshua McPhee) and Kasandra Livingstone (Genie).
Taking on multiple character roles are Lily Armstrong, Shelby Haber, Virginia Maxfield, Taylor McCord, Elizabeth Van Staalduinen and Thomas Taylor.
Since their first rehearsals in the fall, the 11 cast members from 11 to 17 years have counted the days until their first performance.
And on this past Thursday and Friday they previewed their show at Ronald Harvey and Wildrose elementary schools. The school preview was a first-time experiment that organizers believe had a positive impact for all parties.
“We wanted to promote our program, but we also wanted to give opportunities to kids to see a specific performance that is not just the St. Albert Children’s Theatre.”
For a set, Visionary carted a 12-foot by 16-foot stage, 37 lights, a smoke machine and four giant palm trees.
“It looks like a mini oasis,” Labelle explains.
He adds that this is an all-ages show that generates excitement and smiles.
“It’s energetic. It’s accessible. We all know the numbers and the costumes are great. Aladdin and Jafar look exactly like the animation. Those are some of the elements that make it magical.”
Disney’s Aladdin Jr.
Visionary College Teen Musical Theatre
May 1 and 2
8527 – 91 St.
Tickets: $10/adults; $7/students. Call 780-460-4430