Aladdin Jr. in the Making

All the hard work being put into the production by River City teachers and students recognized.

Juliet Rodriguez, Reporter

     Aladdin Jr. is the next production River City Productions is going to put on for all to see. The musical is going to be put on at Bryte campus. On that raised stage at Bryte all the hard work and practice is going to put on the story people have heard before, but with a couple twists. All the hard work, and the people putting in said work deserved to be recognised

     “First you need a design concept,”  says director Chris Hanks. “Always part of it. Design Concept. Casting and then rehearsals, meanwhile technically building the show, and then putting all of the pieces together at the end,”


     Hanks is the Theater and Video production teacher at River City. He’s directed over 40 productions in his career; he directed the play Rough Magic last semester and many of the past plays and musicals.


     One thing about the productions is that they always seem to being in people from the community who know that they will enjoy musicals like Aladdin Jr.


     People  have always gone to the the plays and musicals here at River City, especially when Mr. Hanks became the director for the productions because he knows how to put on a good show and make one come to life. Even while doing this interview, he was on a ladder working on the production.


     Although Hanks deserves a lot of credit for these productions and making them the pieces of art that they eventually turn into, there are a whole cast of students behind the musical also.  


     A good amount of the work put into the play is put in by not only Hanks, but by the crew, cast and ensemble of River City students.


     “My design concept,” Hanks continues, “and the general organization is what I’m leading. I’m expressing all those things in a way that know students are taking it on, in terms of fulfilling the costume design, the set painting, prop making and all that stuff. The choreography I’m putting in student hands, some of the marketing.”


     Hanks is not the only teacher taking control of Aladdin Jr. Linda Cristman, the choir and piano teacher at River City and Aladdin Jr.’s co-director, is teaching and helping rehearse the vocal aspect of the musical.


     She truly does enjoy doing this. With the amount of background she has on plays and musicals, it’s amazing what she can do and what she has done.


     “I love teaching. It’s my passion. I’ve always been a musician from the time I was born. I started playing the piano when I was five and I’ve always sung along with the piano. (…)I’ve done Cinderella and Grease at other schools. I’ve personally been in little Abner and I’ve been in a musical theater group in college,” said Cristman


     This is obviously a very important job to a musical, not to mention usually a rather difficult one. Teaching the cast and ensemble to  keep pitch and how to read the notes in front of them.

     “Well hopefully they have a little bit of background in music already, but that’s not always going to be the case. Sometimes you do have students that come from choir, that already know how to sing, how to keep pitch, but mostly teaching them how to learn, or read the music, the lyrics, get them to memorise they lyrics, to get them to associate the lyrics with how they’re going to move and their facial expressions and to listen to one another so they stay on pitch,” Cristman informs.


     Luckily most of the students in the musical do have some background, including the sophomore student playing Aladdin, Tiarra Sayson.


     “This isn’t my first musical,” says Sayson, “I was in Westmore’s middle school production of Alice in Wonderland Jr. when I was in 4th grade, Schoolhouse of Rock when I was in 5th grade & RCHS productions-Little Shop of Horrors.”


     It’s a dream for little kids to be their favorite prince or princess when they were little. Well Sayson gets to be a literal Disney prince and she couldn’t be more thrilled.


     “It’s crazy! I never I never actually expected to be a lead of a musical! It’s a lot of pressure, but I’m glad Mr. Hanks trusted me enough to give the role!” exclaims Sayson.


     Sadly, Abu, Aladdin’s best and probably only friend who happens to be a monkey will not be part of the musical. Instead we have a group of good friends with Aladdin or “The Bros” as Hanks calls them.


     “At first, I was kind sad that there wouldn’t be an Abu for the musical because the monkey was an iconic character in the movie, but I’m actually really happy with having the bros because their part is great and funny too,” said Sayson.


     It is exciting to see this version of “The Bros” being brought to life. Everyone who plans to go probably has high hopes for the show and so do the actors. When working with different props and other moving parts of the play one can rehearse and practice the moving parts so that they don’t mess up.


     “I hope that the props don’t malfunction or mess up in any way because a lot of the props we use are very important. I also hope I don’t mess up on my lines because I have a lot,” quoted Sayson.


     With every Disney prince there is a Disney princess. Our River City version of a Disney princess is Sangeeta Kelkar. As anyone would be she was excited to be a literal Disney princess.


     “Oh my god it’s crazy, like honestly it hasn’t sunken in yet and I know it’s only for high school but it’s so crazy that I get to be this character which was and still is my favorite Disney princess,” Kelkar says excitedly.


     She is also not getting her animal companion that Jasmine had in the animated movie. “Jasmine” or Kelkar has her own entourage, “The Gal Pals”. Obviously Aladdin Jr. has so many things different than the movie or musicals in general.


     Kelkar explains, “Aladdin Jr. is different because there is always so much happening on stage. All the ensemble is always running around doing something and it never feels dull. I guess..I don’t know it feels more inclusive and friendly.” She went on to say, “I’m excited for seeing the show come to life and all the costumes and props and just being able to do this with all you guys.”


     There is just something about this musical that has everyone involved excited. Whether it’s the choreography or the new twists to the story you have heard before, everyone is excited for the this musical.


     “I’m really excited for how Mr. Hanks is gonna stage everything. He told us  some of his plans and it sounds really…extravagant. I’m so excited to see the end product of that, but also how good the show is as a whole because we’re all putting in a lot of work.” says Sayson.


     Cristman is also very excited for many aspects in the musical.


     Cristman says,“I think I’m most excited about pulling it all together and seeing how it comes out. I think that the cast is a really good cast and I really love the genie part. I can’t wait to see the genie part come to life. I love how Mr. Hanks makes the props and the background pop. It all comes to life for us and it’s amazing what he can pull together”


     Hanks is always thinking about the audience and the people working in the production.


     He says, “It’s shorter. It’s only an hour long which means it’s great for young audiences. The content like the singing, the acting, the size of the production is full scale so it rivals full length shows that way in scope, but in terms of its length it would make it better for it’s youngsters”


     There are definite high hopes for this Musical. With the work of Mr. Hanks, Ms. Cristman, the cast, the crew, and the ensemble this will be a great production. Good luck everyone!