LIMA — Disney draws kids.
And this weekend, the Disney musical “Aladdin Jr.” has already begun its magical pull.
“We had a lot of kids new to Encore try out for this show,” said Sheri Welker, director of the McDonald’s Youth Theatre production, the final one of the season.
From a 32-child cast, Welker said about half of them are new to the stage. “At times, that has been a challenge, but they’ve really pulled together well. There is a lot of talent here. This show also has a lot of music, and we’ve got some really great vocal talent in this cast,” Welker said.
The fact that most of these kids have grown up on Disney helps most of the time. “But I have had a few of them ask me, ‘isn’t it this way in the movie?’ I remind them that this isn’t the movie,” Welker said.
But like the movie, the play launches from Agrabah, the City of Enchantment. There, Princess Jasmine is faced with defying the law, which says she must marry a prince. Helping to save her from an arranged marriage is the hero Aladdin, a blue Genie, and a wise-cracking parrot.
“Our biggest challenge in bringing this show to the stage has been the flying carpet. Also, we have to make a genie pop out of a lamp,” Welker said. A little imagination and Disney magic save the day, and help the cast tell the story.
“We want the kids in the show to have a great time. We want them to learn about excellence. We want them to learn that you don’t show up and just do a show, you give it all you’ve got and bring excellence to whatever it is you’re doing. We want them to learn about community theater, and realize that while you may not go to the same school as some of these other people, you are in the same community. We want them to learn to work together to make things good,” Welker said.