Center Stage: ‘Aladdin Jr.’ a must see performance
“A Whole New World” is one of the title tunes in the Disney musical “Aladdin Jr.,” but it best describes the packed house of mostly kids and this audience’s reaction to this musical’s production, currently playing at the Broadway Palm’s Children’s Luncheon Theatre.
What a fantastic way to introduce our community’s young people to the true magic of live theater. Every single thing about this wonderful production transports our young people, as well as the grownups, onto a magic carpet ride in this musical adventure.
The most wonderful thing about this show is that it is full surprises as well as magic. First of all, imagine 11 cast members, only three of whom double in roles, create the feeling of crowds of people on stage. Now envision sets by the gifted set designing Company P&P Designs lighted to perfection by Chris McCleary, with eye popping costumes John P. White, coordinated by Jim Conti, incredible props, like the magic carpet and those are just production values.
I haven’t even said anything about the remarkable cast who are just that “REMARKABLE!”
Let’s begin with the central character Erik Heitz, also cast as the local “skuzzball” Chuck Cranston in current “B P’s” production “Footloose.” From skuzzball to romantic hero, Heitz leaps or is it flies, over all the obstacles like a true romantic hero. He is not only good looking, our man has great charm, along with a dazzling smile, a good solid voice to make songs soar; and dance moves that would put Gene Kelly to shame. In other words, this young performer is Aladdin.
Actually, when I tallied how many cast members double into also performing in “Footloose” the grand total comes to eight out of the 11 in “Aladdin.” The only other cast members not in “Footloose” are: Christopher Brent and Isabella, as the fantastically, funny parrot Iago, and her father Miguel Cintron as the wonderfully, hilarious Sultan of the city- Agrabah.
Grabielle Harker as Princess Jasmine is not only the plus perfect princess every little girl wants to pretend to be, but she has the chops to be feisty, fun along with a magic carpet load of talent in the acting, singing and dancing department.
Michael Jones plays the mean and nasty villain Jafar, to Boo Hiss perfection.
The three narrators who basically sing the story are three lovely harem dressed cuties Sami Doherty, Rachael Haber and Callie Atkinson.
But, guess who every kid’s favorite character is in this magical tale? Why the Genie of course this time inhabited to flawlessness by the remarkable and very versatile Jayar Garcia. His performance had to be the “high point” of the show for kids and adults alike in the audience. You should have seen the kids line up afterwards to have their picture taken with the Genie, or get him to sign their program.
Last but certainly not least, I need to acknowledge the two leading guiding creative staff members in constructing this musical magic. First Director Paul Bernier and Choreographer Amy Marie McMcleary.
There is quality in every aspect of this show. The stage dazzles with color and activity. To me, this Prather & Company, Inc. Production, the cast and production staff have given us nothing short of a masterpiece of stagecraft and truly “A Whole New World” for our young and older viewers to remember and treasure.
“Aladdin Jr.” as can be expected is selling out fast show time in lunch at noon with show following. Performance dates are Aug. 5, 7, 9, 11, and 14. Do act now start the magic carpet ride by phoning the box office at 239-278-4422 and when you phone remind ’em Marsha sent you!