Genie grants Fort Herriman students one more chance to perform ‘Aladdin Jr.’Feb 10, 2021 01:40PM ● By Jet Burnham
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
Students at Fort Herriman Middle School have been granted another chance to perform “Aladdin Jr.” Last year’s production of “Aladdin Jr” was in early rehearsals when the governor shut down in-person schooling. The play was delayed twice and ultimately canceled. The half-built sets lay abandoned for 10 months until theater teacher Kayla Martin determined it was possible to resurrect the play this spring.
The production is proceeding with precautions and restrictions in place, including required masks, daily symptom checks, and limiting the number of people on the stage.
“We are going to be highly encouraging our cast to not to do anything outside of their own home,” Martin said.
Martin hopes that these precautions, along with new, less restrictive quarantine rules, they’ll avoid having to rely on virtual rehearsals.
“Rehearsals on Zoom are really challenging,” she said. “Because of the delay, you can't sing together. I can play my music from my computer and then everyone else is able to mute their microphones and just sing along but I wouldn't be able to hear them.”
Auditions for the show were held virtually and the cast size was limited. Those students who were cast for the show last year had no guarantee they’d get a part this year.
“Everyone has to re-audition,” Martin said. “At this age, their voices are constantly changing. The kid who got a lead last year may not be able to sing this year because his voice is in the middle of changing. So, we just decided to open it to everybody and just hope for the best.”
Understudy roles will be used in case an actor gets sick or quarantined.
“We're planning on having a couple of kids who can play a variety of roles, so if we need to move people around, these flex kids can step in and play any number of roles,” Martin said.
The show will also look different from last year.
“Usually, we're very big into group dance numbers,” Martin said. “It's going to have to be smaller dance numbers this year.”
Actors will be more spaced out in their scenes and masks will be incorporated into many of the costume designs.
Martin is committed to ensuring that the show goes on, no matter the challenges and setbacks they’ll surely face.
“So many kids are struggling with making friends because there's nothing going on this year,” she said. “And so this is going to be able to provide students with an opportunity to be social and to be creative and give them that outlet of being able to use their energy in a different way. It's not just sitting behind a desk—it's up and moving and very kinesthetic, which is what our junior high students really thrive on.”
When last year’s play was cancelled, cast members continued to stay connected with cast meetings over Zoom throughout the spring and into the summer.
“So many kids got kind of shut off from the rest of the world when the shutdown happened, so we kept doing calls so that the kids had an opportunity to just talk,” Martin said. “They were obviously heartbroken about it and I shared that heartbreak and so we helped each other work through our emotions.”
Martin hopes that, this time, the cast will be able to perform their show to an audience. Dates are scheduled for April 28-30.
“For these young performers, it is so important for them to be able to perform in front of a live audience, because we can get that instant feedback of the applause and the laughter,” Martin said. “It's not something that can be replicated without an audience. The audience gives energy to the actors. Without an audience there, it's so awkward. It feels like another rehearsal.”