Featuring colorful costumes and backdrops, imaginative choreography, lively songs and talented actors, Bull Run Elementary presents "Aladdin Jr."
It's the school's sixth musical and will be performed Tuesday-Wednesday, March 28-29, at 2 and 7 p.m. each day, in the cafeteria. Admission is free.
There are also some pretty spiffy special effects. A magic carpet comes to life and flies, a cave collapses and the genie enters and exits in a puff of smoke.
THE SHOW boasts a cast and crew of 50, including the fifth- and sixth-grade chorus, and Director Jolie Kelly couldn't be prouder of her young thespians. "They've been awesome, working very hard since December," she said. "It's a talented cast and very dedicated.
Playing Aladdin is sixth-grader Nick Burroughs, 12. His character has grown up poor and has to steal things to survive, but doesn't usually get caught. But things start looking up when the genie turns him into a prince.
"It's really fun [portraying Aladdin], but it's a lot of work because I'm the lead and I have so many lines to memorize," said Nick. "I also have to learn the cues of when to come out, and the choreography." However, he added, "I love acting and I'm always on stage."
And when he's not, he likes playing with his fellow actors backstage. As for the show, he said the audience will like the mystery of it: "They're not going to be expecting what happens next, because it's not like the Disney musical."
Classmate Katie Eichenberger, 11, is Jasmine. "She's a princess who has a lot of stuff, but she wants to live her own life and not be told what to do," explained Katie. "She's really feisty and likes to argue."
She, too, is enjoying her role. Said Katie: "I've always wanted to get angry on stage because, [as an actor], you have to think about how you're going to do it."
HER FAVORITE song in the show is "Riff Raff, Street Rat," sung about Aladdin at the beginning of the musical, because "you have to switch from one mood to the next — from mad to wishful thinking — and the song has a nice tune."
Katie says the audience will be wowed by the show's special effects. "We try to make everything look real," she said. "And the costumes are really good and the scenery is awesome."
Playing the Genie is sixth-grader Ben Fairbanks, 12. "He's always on Aladdin's side and has many different personalities in the way he talks and acts," said Ben. "He can sound like anything from a gangster to a romantic man."
The Genie appears out of a magic lamp after Aladdin rubs it and grants him three wishes. "It's mostly fun because I get to act as someone feisty and competitive with other people," said Ben. "Aladdin gets all the attention so the Genie gets jealous."
He said the hardest part of his role is that the genie's a very fast talker "so I have to articulate very well. But I get to wear a great costume — a red vest with gold swirls, blue-silk balloon pants and gold jester shoes that are pointy and turn up at the end — and the Genie has the most special effects."
As a member of the tech crew, fifth-grader Nick Dellomo, 10, also has an important role in the production's success: He runs the light board. "I put half the lights on when I need to, dim them or put them on blackout," he explained. "I think it's pretty fun; I really like doing that kind of stuff." The only drawback, said Nick, is that "you have to stay there a lot, even if you want to get a drink of water."
Parents are also performing vital tasks behind the scenes. Musical directors are Kelly Butler-Noel and Ruth Wygal, and the choreographer is Yvonne Henry. Designing and painting the backdrops were Lois Moore, Craig Dykstra, Lisa Hollen and Karen Emsley. Parents and grandparents of the cast members made the costumes, and costume coordinator Laura Donohoe made extra costumes, such as the guards' and dancers' outfits.
"AND WE want to thank [Principal] Thom Clement," said Director Kelly, who's also a fifth-grade teacher in the GT center. "It's his vision and commitment to providing opportunities for his students that made this all possible."
"I think the audience will love the story and the special effects," continued Kelly. "And there's nothing like child actors, who have so much excitement and energy in their faces when they perform. It's very compelling."