3 performances of ‘Aladdin Jr.’ will grant all your wishes
Feb 24, 2020 03:27PM
By Jet Burnham
The cast of West Hills Middle School rehearses for the production of “Aladdin Jr”. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Have you ever seen a play that was so good, you wish you could see it again? Your wish is granted.
Disney’s “Aladdin Jr.” will be performed at three local middle schools this spring: West Hills in West Jordan, South Hills in Riverton and Fort Herriman in Herriman.
Each director has plans to grant the wishes of audience members hoping to see a great show.
Want to see some magic? Wish granted! Kayla Martin, director at Fort Herriman Middle, promises some big magic in her production.
“When I was young, seeing a musical was magical,” she said. “Now that I have 20 years of theater experience under my belt, I see it as my mission to bring that magic to my audiences and my students.”
Want to see a carpet come to life? Wish granted! The magic carpet in the production at South Hills becomes a starring character thanks to a parent volunteer, an electric wheelchair motor and a creative dream. Audiences should also be prepared for the unexpected—girls will be playing the role of the Genie and Jafar.
Want to be part of the show? Wish granted! West Hills director Judy Binns knows that audience members will get so caught up in the energy of the musical numbers, they’ll want to join in. Everyone will be invited to participate in two of the big musical numbers with colorful props.
All three shows highlight student talent on and off the stage.
At South Hills, Director Ryan Erwin depends on a core ensemble—those who didn’t fit the role of a lead but are talented and hardworking—for specialized choreography. Behind the scenes, Erwin also encourages students to apply their skills; sets were designed by ninth grader Hailey Fielding.
“I feel like we do a great job of highlighting the talent that we have here,” Erwin said.
Fort Herriman students have also taken a leading role in the technical aspects and design of their show, including hair and makeup, advertising and sets. High school students have returned to take on some directing responsibilities.
“I give them a list of expectations and let them do it,” Martin said.
Sierra Cowley, who plays the Genie at South Hills, said it is a little intimidating to be performing the same show as two other schools within two months of each other.
“If everyone's doing the same show, there's not going to be a lot of demand to go see the show,” she said. “But I feel like it motivates us to put on the best show so that we can feel good about our production.”
Sierra plans to see the other productions, especially at Fort Herriman where her friend Lucas Morley is also playing the Genie.
Lucas said it won’t be a strain on their friendship.
“There's not really a competition,” he said. “I think we're both just doing our own thing.”
Micaela Page, an eighth grader playing the Genie at West Hills, said the actors in each production will play their role in their own unique way.
“It's been really fun to put my own spin on all the different things that people would expect to see in the show,” said Micaela.
Watching other casts perform your show is a learning experience, said Sterling Lund, who plays Aladdin at South Hills.
“It's always great to take a step back and look at how other people are portraying the roles and to just reflect on our own performance,” he said.
Directors don’t expect the differences of their shows will become a competition.
Binns believes that middle school art should be collaborative, not competitive.
“I don't tell the kids to be better than any other schools,” Binns said. “I tell them to go support the other schools.”
“Real art isn't about the comparison,” he said. “It's about the celebration of each other's success.”
Erwin said middle school theater programs provide teens an opportunity to showcase their talents.
“It's all about making sure that when the lights go up, the kids are ready to go, they have everything that they need, that they feel confident and successful and they go out and have a fun time,” he said.
Residents of all three communities are invited to attend one, two or all three of the shows.
“Hundreds of hours go into these productions,” Martin said. “Come out and support all of us and see everyone's unique interpretations of this magical show.”
If cast members could have one wish granted, it would be to have an enthusiastic audience.
“My favorite part of the play is at the very end,” said Stockton Taylor, who plays Iago at West Hills. “When you're in the finishing pose and the crowd’s cheering—that's just something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Where and when you can visit Agrabah
There are three chances to see Disney’s “Aladdin, Jr.” with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin.
West Hills Middle School, 8270 Grizzly Way, West Jordan
Feb. 27, 28, 29, March 2. Shows start at 6:30 p.m.
Donations requested for admission (suggested $5).
Judy Binns, director; Julie Weir, producer; Merilynne Michaelis and Anna Lisa Glad, music directors; Cindy Mecham and Chad McBride, costumes
84 in cast
South Hills Middle School, 13508 South 4000 West, Riverton
March 6 at 7 p.m., March 7 at 1 p.m. (with ASL interpreter), March 11 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $4.
Ryan Erwin, director and choreographer; Staci Vittetoe, assistant director and co-choreographer;
Eric Noyes, chorale director
120 in cast
Fort Herriman Middle School, 14058 Mirabella Dr., Herriman
April 29, 30, May 1. Shows start at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $2
Kayla Martin, director; Brad Davis, music director; Tanner Sumens, choreographer; Stacy Thackeray, costumes
85 in cast