Reviewed by Margaret Thompson
As the curtain rose, I knew immediately that this CharacterWorks production would get my vote for most colorful costumes. The ensemble gathered in the market square of the fictional Middle Eastern town made for an impactful visual to start Aladdin, showcasing the breadth of talent on display – clever scenery, elaborate costumes and makeup, and talented 8- to 18-year-olds who had clearly rehearsed themselves to perfection.
Aladdin, the play follows the original story and Disney movie closely enough to remember the main plotline, with just enough humor geared to the parents to keep the entire audience entertained (think cameos by the artist formerly known as…well, I’ll let you see for yourself.). Clever costuming, such as the portrayal of the flying carpet, and some set wizardry by longtime CharacterWorks set designer extraordinaire Peter Holleran and his team of parent volunteers, including a few fireworks (!) and the shrinking of Jafar that had our kids still talking about it the next day, pumped up the entertainment value. The 7-year-old girl in our group talked a lot about the dancing and was dancing and singing Hotter than Hot throughout the weekend.
In typical CharacterWorks fashion, the casting was spot-on. I don’t know any of these kids personally, but I can’t imagine more perfect selections for the boyish and instantly likeable Aladdin, played by 14-year-old Oak Knoll Middle School eighth-grader Nate Proctor, or the lovely princess Jasmine, played by 13-year-old Gabrielle Easter, a homeschooled eighth-grader. Who other than 13-year-old Riley Ely, on his home stage at Tomahawk Creek, could have pulled off that portrayal of Iago, sidekick to Jafar, also played so well by Deep Run freshman Michael O’Connell. And don’t even get me started on that genie, played by 15-year-old Cosby High School tenth grader, Elijah Chumley. He was SO amazing, so funny, and while I won’t say he stole the show since the entire cast contributed to the success, he certainly did steal my heart.
Aladdin continues this weekend, Friday, February 13 through Sunday, February 15, at Tomahawk Creek Middle School. Tickets are available at CharacterWorks .