Dual-language script givesn Croswell’s ‘Aladdin’ a fresh feelWritten by Renee Lapham Collins | | email@example.com
Back in 2005, in McAllen, Texas, a team from Disney wanted to do a theater project to attract the area’s large Hispanic community. They worked with the local high school to develop a script of “Aladdin” in English and Spanish.
The result is a story that even if you don’t (understand) both languages, you can still understand the story.
The dual-language script caught Croswell Opera House artistic director Jere Righter’s interest in part because Lenawee County also has a sizable Hispanic community and she felt this “Aladdin” would appeal to a larger audience in the community. “Aladdin” will be staged at the Croswell on March 16-17 and 23-25. Creative Director John MacNaughton is directing the Disney musical. “White Christmas” was his most recent production.
“The Spanish is a challenge,” said Cody Robison of Tipton, who plays the title character. “I don’t have an extensive background and memorizing the script is difficult enough along with that. The translation can sometimes be hard to act out, due to the differences in the emphasis on the words.”
Robison, 18, is on his 10th show and his second at the Croswell. Most recently, he was in the October production of “The 39 Steps.” Robison attended Onsted Schools and is currently enrolled at Jackson Community College studying theater. He hopes to transfer to a four-year school, but said he has not yet found “the right college.”
Fifteen-year-old Candace Ostrander of Manchester is starring as Jasmine, the princess who flees the oppression of her sultan father’s household.
“I like Jasmine, she has kind of an attitude, she’s sassy and standing up for what she believes in,” Ostrander said. “Her father, the sultan, is forcing her into a marriage and she runs away after an argument — it’s a real teenage moment.”
“Aladdin” is Ostrander’s seventh Croswell show. Most recently, she appeared as Aunt Em and the Pizza Boy in the Croswell’s production of “The Wiz,” and also was featured in “White Christmas,” “Obsession,” “Dora the Explorer” and “Footloose.” Theater is a career she “definitely” plans to pursue.
“I love to sing and act,” Ostrander said.
Stuart MacDonald, magician and the producer behind “The Haunting” haunted house, plays the Genie.
“It’s a pretty cool role because I’ll be totally blue and bald,” MacDonald said with a grin. “And I’ll probably be sweating a lot, too!”
MacDonald first appeared on the Croswell stage when he was in the sixth grade, with 2004’s “Grease” being his most recent production. He said he has not had a solo on the Croswell stage since he was in high school.
“The Genie is a wild character, kind of manic in a Robin Williams way,” MacDonald said. “I still have a lot of polishing to do, but it is getting there.”
D.D. DuRussel of Manchester will play the part of Jafar, the evil royal vizier to the sultan’s household, who pursues Jasmine and Aladdin. DuRussel also is a familiar face to Croswell-goers, having played the rocks and the Whale in “Dora the Explorer” and the Surfing Dude Sun in “Blue’s Clues.”
“The music is so familiar that it is a joy to sing,” DuRussel said. “Jafar is so deliciously evil and conniving that I am sure to give many a child nightmares.”
DuRussel has acted in numerous shows, starting at the old Black Sheep Theater in Manchester and later in Opera! Lenawee productions and Tecumseh Players’ musicals.
“When I was a kid, my mother was always asking me, ‘Don’t you know how to act?’” DuRussel said. “So, I’m always learning — always acting. If the audience leaves knowing how important the truth is and to always be yourself, then our work here is done.”
The production will feature a flying carpet and other special effects, including lots of magic tricks,” along with a chorus of about 15 children, MacNaughton said.
“They are hilarious and fun,” he said. “I’m enjoying it. They are either this tall,” he said, gesturing with his hand at his knee, “or this tall,” gesturing with his hand at his shoulder. “And it works!”
MacNaughton is keeping the pace moving to accommodate the children in the audience.
“Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ is a well-known movie and we’ll have flying carpets, lots of magic, lots of bright colors and lots of movement and energy. It will be a real spectacle and the kids will know all the music,” he said. “This is a chance for people to see it live.”
Tickets are available at the Croswell, by calling (517) 264-SHOW or visiting the website at www.croswell.org. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children 5 and younger. The show opens Friday, March 16; curtain times are 6:30 p.m. for evening shows and 1:30 p.m. for the Sunday matinee.