Students at St. Ephrem School transported audiences to the fictional village of Agrabah in their version of the Disney musical “Aladdin Jr.” on Jan. 13–15 — the school’s first full-scale theatrical production. The pint-sized performers dazzled audiences with 21 musical numbers in a colorful production that took the entire community to produce, said one parent.
“This was not a one-man show. All the kids worked really hard, and it really paid off. Parents volunteered to help, some made or bought costumes, designed the sets, and one even brought in his own sound and lighting equipment,” said Bay Ridgite Mary Donnelly, whose 9-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son acted in the show. “Even some local high-school kids helped out. Everyone came together, and the kids really came out of their shell.”
More than 30 third- through eighth-graders sang, danced, and acted in four showings of the musical, which follows the adventures of a street urchin named Aladdin who falls in love with a princess and uses a magic lamp-inhabiting Genie to help him win her over. The show was the school’s first major theater piece after parents advocated for more arts at the Fort Hamilton Parkway campus, according to the show’s director.
“There is a pent-up need for the arts at St. Ephrem,” said Susan Huizinga. “They have concerts and a choir, but nothing like this. And parents saw shows at other schools in the area and thought, ‘Why can’t we do something like that?’ And so we all did.”
Students practiced eight hours a week for more than four months to put on the show. But the hard work was worth it, said one student.
“Sometimes it was really hard practicing and learning all the lines, but I really liked it,” said fourth-grader Liza Donnelly. “It was fun because we got to dance and I got to narrate stories. I want to do it again.”