Disney musical performed by young cast
After five months of rehearsing, it’s finally almost here.
Starting Feb. 7, the 72 children of Children’s Performing Arts, ages 4 to 12, will present a musical in colorful costumes with a live orchestra.
“Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” is a stage version of the popular 1992 movie (a children’s adaptation of Aladdin and the magic lamp from “A Thousand and One Nights,” with Robin Williams as The Genie). The music was written by Alan Menken and the lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, with adaptations by Jim Luigs and Bryan Louiselle.
It tells the story of Princess Jasmine, who is instructed by her father, the Sultan, to choose a husband from three visiting princes. As she makes her escape, she encounters the street urchin Aladdin.
There’s also a genie, a magic carpet, an evil government official and his parrot. Street smarts, true love and trickery play a role, and the good guys get a happy ending.
Children’s Performing Arts of Forest Lake (CPA), a theatre arts program for the younger set, was established in 2005. Since then, more than 500 children have participated in 13 CPA performances.
Children from the Forest Lake, Chisago, and Mahtomedi school districts take part, including home schoolers. Families learn about the program mainly through word of mouth.
This year the group has been rehearsing at Hosanna Lutheran Church, 9300 Scandia Trail N. Starting in September, the cast comes every Sunday to learn the script, music and choreography. Hosanna is also where the performances will be held.
There will be four opportunities to see “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” The show will open at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7. On Saturday, Feb. 8, the troupe will give two performances, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. The final show will be at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9.
There is no charge for tickets, but a free-will donation will be taken at each performance. To make reservations, visit http://forestlakecpa.eventbrite.com.
Jasmine is played by Ella Anderson, a sixth-grader at Lakes International Language Academy (LILA).
This is her second year with CPA. Two years ago she had a chorus role in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Last year, when she was not involved, she regretted her decision.
“I came back because I missed it,” she said.
Anderson also auditioned for the role of Genie, but said “I really wanted Jasmine, because I like to sing and she gets to sing more.”
Her favorite song in the musical is “A Whole New World,” a duet with Aladdin, backed by a chorus.
Aladdin is Tyler Tetrault, also a LILA sixth-grader. He also considered being Genie, but is happy with his part.
In the song “One Jump,” he sings, “Gotta eat to live, gotta steal to eat,” and shortly after that escapes with Jasmine by jumping off the stage.
His favorite song, though, is “Prince Ali.”
Josh Carlson, who did get the role of Genie, is a fourth-grader at LILA.
“I do a lot of popping out, being funny,” he said. Carlson solos in the song, “A Friend Like Me.”
The parrot Iago is played by Maddox Lee, a LILA fourth-grader.
“I memorized the whole script a long time ago,” she said. She calls her character a smart aleck with some good lines, such as “A parrot never gets any respect,” and “The only thing worse than being treated like a parrot is being treated like a kid.”
Watch for “Why Me,” her duet with the ambitious, manipulative Jafar.
Jafar is played by Jack Ihlenfeldt, a fourth-grader at St. Peter’s Catholic School who was Uncle Henry in last year’s CPA production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
“He’s always been my favorite character in the movie,” he said, “ever since I watched it in daycare.”
Ihlenfeldt uses a low voice and evil laugh. His favorite lines show the vizier’s preoccupation with power: “Once I have it, I won’t ever have to bow to anybody again,” and “Bow before me, you miserable wenches.” (Ihlenfeldt admits not knowing what a wench is.)
His best song is “Why Me,” he says, where Jafar tells what he’s been through and how horrible his life is.
Director Carrie Carlson, choreographer Kari Bullion and music director Bonnie Wursher are assisted by four junior directors. These are junior high and high school students, most CPA alumni, who help the children with songs, lines, dance steps and sound system.
Jill Kramer leads the production team. Stage managers are Max Carlson and Fallon Olson. Dar Mueller, Rochelle Sosniski, Randy Bergman and Peggy Babcock designed the costumes, set and props. Many moms of cast members volunteered to sew the costumes.