ALT Academy actors hope to soar with ‘Aladdin’ staging

Posted by Chip Chandler - Digital Content Producer on
Aladdin (Ben Knight) takes Jasmine (Tuisdi McClure) soaring

The young actors of Amarillo Little Theatre Academy will bring a whole new world to life beginning Friday.

A full-to-the-brim cast of 100 will bring “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” to the stage for two weekends’ worth of performances – 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and April 1 and 2, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday and April 2 and 3. Performances will be staged in the ALT Mainstage, 2019 Civic Circle.

“The sets look amazing. They really resemble the cartoon version, and the music helps in that area, too,” said 17-year-old Ben Knight, who stars as the titular street rat.

But it’s not just a faithful replication of either the Disney movie or the popular stage adaptation that’s running on Broadway, director Jason Crespin said.

In fact, the staging shouldn’t be as complex as ALT plans to make it: The “Jr.” appellation typically means the show is “condensed to allow smaller theaters to do them well,” Crespin said.

That’s not good enough for his kids, he said.

Music director Brandon Bellar added harmonies. The large cast will perform on sprawling sets, in costumes designed by Leigh Anne Crandall.

In short? “Yes, it’s a smaller version of what Broadway has, but there’s nothing ‘junior’ about our show,” Crespin said.

But the challenges aren’t only in the actual staging; they also come in finding ways to bring to life characters that were so indelibly voiced by others – particularly the Genie.

“It’s probably one of the hardest roles I’ve ever had to do – to take this animated, shapeshifting genie and bring that to life here on stage,” said 17-year-old Harrison Stringer. “You have to stay somewhat true (to the movie) because it’s so famous, so well known.”

The young actor is starting to find a comfort level in ad-libbing too, just as Williams famously did.

“I love that he’s not necessarily following it exactly,” Crespin said. “What Robin Williams did was genius, so obviously there’s that footprint there. But he’s coming up with his own character and coming up with his own nuances.”

Tickets are $15 for ages 12 and older or $12 for ages 11 and younger.

For information, call 806-355-9991 or email info@amarillolittletheatre.org.