By David Walters
I saw a wonderfully vibrant entertaining show this past weekend.
I went to see the 5th-grade production of Aladdin at the PS11 school in New York (a cut down version of the full length entitled, Aladdin Jr.).
It was fantastic! It was fun! It was exciting! And a whole host of other adjectives (that I’ll soon get to) and I didn’t even have a kid in the production. The joy of what makes live theatre just poured off the stage.
What elicited all these feelings and adjectives from me was the energy, spirit, and love behind the creation. It was obvious that director Sarah Chemerys, musical director Sharon Golub and choreographer Rachel Wurman worked with devotion and great care with that class to bring this production to fruition and make it fly.
What started the magic off, that was shared with the audience, was a break-a-leg good wishes message from Telly Leung, the current Aladdin on Broadway, that laid the groundwork for the evening.
The massive effort, both from the performers and the parents (several of the actors were onstage with temperatures over 100°, because, as we know, the show must go on!) mixed with the spirit of what makes theater and what it takes to bring it to life on the stage. All the kids were decked out with that life and spirit and it made all of them stars that shown oh so bright that evening.
It was heartfelt for me to see these fresh performers get the feel for the first time of what it’s like to have the whole audience in their hand and be able to take them on the ride.
The capricious alacrity of Calvin Gentry (Aladdin), the enchanting presence of Chloe Wilkes (Jasmine), the effervescent life force of Elisa Oh (Genie), the spirit of enjoying the dastardly Theo Trane (Jafar) and Kostas Kohtoleon (Iago) and the joyfulness of life of Eli Parmett (Sultan) all were shooting stars that night. Sensational, marvelous and superb (more adjectives, I know, but the spirit of theatre elicited it).
Theater is, of course, a group effort and I have to also mention the bright shining color that was brought on the stage by the wonderful supporting cast that not only supported, but drove the fun and humor of the show: Jameson Jurofsky, Aaron Vandebroek, Jaime Mackliff, Max Mayers, Calder Auden, Kate Cortina, Petra Mayers, Zoe Manzo, Remi Steele, Melina Quiles, Anouk Bowen, Alexa Friedman, Ilona Ford, Katie Snider, Sonya Sagalovskly, Elijah Morehouse, Isabel Friedman, Vivienne Ryan, Zachary Burman, Ansel Krebs, Grace Mills, Matilda Fried Levenstein, Ilsa Feldman, Maximillian Stohrer, Sebastian Divina, Brody Gordon, Zavier Herrera, Kozby Duval, Adrian Madrid, Charles Cooper, Ilan Doubrovkine-Paskar, Tina Rodriguez, Maxwell Merlis-Herbstein, Astrid Held, Liav Boutboul, Alejandra Garcia, Amanda Ro, Meera Williams, Aubriella Nunez, Alyssa Delgado, Dhara Shridharani, Katyayini Prasanna, Seneca Walsh, Eliza Weiss, Amira Rojas, Alessandra Vignone, Mila Castrillo, Damien Castro, Edwin Horowitz and Alex Slapar. They were all big stars that night.
If you have kids or will have kids in the future, please, urge them to take part in the magic that only live theatre can give. It could be life-changing.