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‘Aladdin’ for a new generation

Jan 20, 2017 02:40PM ● Published by Kelly Cannon

The Genie, played by Kimberly Stevenson, shows Aladdin, played by Austin Bigelow, that a magic carpet ride can get him out of many a jam. (Keyra Kristoffersen/City Journals)

Gallery: Acting Up [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Keyra Kristoffersen | Keyra@mycityjournals.com

A whole new world of harem pants, sequins and tail feathers was opened up to a group of children on Jan. 9 at the Sandy Library when SCERA’s award-winning youth theater group, Acting Up, came to perform a one-hour version of Disney’s “Aladdin.”

“I love how we get to perform for the children and show the story of Aladdin from other points of view,” said Emma Elison, a sophomore and member of the ensemble. “I think most of them will love the story for the all of the fun music and fun dances we do.”

Children and adult audience members alike were delighted when the group of high school–aged performers interacted with them throughout the entire performance.

“With the outreach shows, we get to go everywhere — it’s not necessarily about the quality of the show, but about meeting different people . . . you’ll do shows when you’re up on stage, but this is just so much more interactive, more personal . . . It’s really enjoyable,” said Austin Bigelow, a senior playing the lead role of Aladdin.

Bigelow’s Aladdin is earnest while Jasmine, played by Emily Kirkham, is a trapped princess who can definitely fight for her freedom.

 “The funniest thing to me when we first ran through the show and Jafar and Iago did their scene together cause they are just so hilarious and none of us had seen it, so we were just cracking up, all the funny things they were doing because they’re awesome,” Elison said.

The wise-cracking, tail-flipping parrot minion Iago, played by Zach Thorn, did elicit a lot of laughs as he engaged his young audience by completely ignoring the fourth wall and asking their opinions about the various goings on in the story.

Kimberly Stevenson, a senior, was covered in blue sequins for her role as the phenomenally cosmic-powered Genie.

“It’s just such a good cast and we have such a fun show . . . it’s fun to play with the other leads,” she said.

The biggest challenge, according to several students, was just making the spacing work in a new venue every month, especially when trying to fit 25–30 actors who are all on stage all the time.

The SCERA program starts with children as young as four. However, youths must audition for Acting Up, as it is the elite youth theater program at Orem’s SCERA Theater. The group performs a chosen outreach show at libraries, youth detention centers and schools once a month all over Utah and Salt Lake counties throughout their season of August through May, along with Sunday firesides. These are an opportunity for students to engage with children and others who might not have had exposure to live musical theater before.

In between the free shows, Acting Up is preparing for their big trip to California for the Musical Theatre Competitions of America in February, where they’ll have the chance to participate in workshops with industry professionals and compete against other musical theater students from across the United States.

“It’s a really good experience for them . . . it’s connected with Disney, so it’s a pretty big deal,” said Kathryn Little, the director of Acting Up.

After the competition in California, it’s time for their big full-scale spring musical, “Oklahoma,” and the students are excited for the upcoming cast announcements.

Bigelow plans to continue in theater while studying marketing at Utah Valley University and Stevenson says music and singing is the direction she intends to follow.

The next performance of “Aladdin” is free to the public on Feb. 11 at the Orem Library, 58 State St. Orem, and a schedule for shows can be found at https://www.scera.org/acting/.


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