Woodstock North High School students will work magic on stage Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10 and 11, with a presentation of “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” at the school, 3000 Raffel Road.
“It’s an immersive experience,” said sophomore Jared Ritter, who plays the role of Aladdin.
Different from the animated Walt Disney version, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” by Michele Vacca, is the saga of Aladdin, a child laborer who works for a man who exchanges new lamps for old ones. Aladdin’s wish is to marry the beautiful princess Jasmine, but even with the genie’s help, he encounters obstacles.
Tech crew leader Sue Lewis said WNHS has worked with Vacca’s screenplays before and the playwright gives WNHS license to add music and songs — and fog.
In her director’s notes, artistic director Tish Lyon describes the magical Arabian Nights’ tale as pertinent to today’s world. She wrote, “The power of greed and anger can destroy you, the power of friendship in an unlikely form can help conquer bullies; but it is the power of love and loyalty that literally and figuratively can change the world.”
Sophomore Olivia Mellinger, who plays Princess Jasmine, described the show as colorful with brilliant lighting and sound, with a phenomenal set.
“The set design was inspired by architecture of the times, including stenciling on all the arches,” said Ritter.
Veteran choreographer Christy Johanson was called in especially for this production to work with the actors.
The show is part of the school’s theater-for-young-audiences series. The troupe stages productions with stories and characters that appeal to children as well as adults. The fast pace of the show easily lends itself to keeping the interest of young audiences.
One of the highlights of the theater-for-young-audience series is the special weekday shows the troupe performs for Life Skills students and Valley View Elementary School in McHenry.
“It’s cool to perform to a full house of all kids,” said Ritter.
“They think we’re the real characters,” said Mellinger. The cast, in full costume, greets the students as they exit the theater.
Between the cast and crew, nearly 60 students – freshmen to seniors – are involved with the production.
Freshman Jason Thurow plays Magician Maghrabi, the ultimate bad guy. Thurow came to high school with middle school theater experience and knowing a lot of his fellow thespians.
The role of the Genie belongs to Danny Cosgray. This is the third show for the WNHS junior. In contrast, senior Alex Kobler, the Sultan, has appeared in all but two of the drama department’s shows since he was a freshman. Much to the delight of his directors his post high school plans may include theater.
The directors frequently express their pride in the theater students.
“We’re so dedicated to these guys,” said Lewis. “It’s a joy.”
Show times are 7 p.m. Nov. 10 and 11. Tickets are $5 for students and senior citizens and $10 for adults. Nov. 11 will be Pajama Night, and the audience is encouraged to wear pajamas and bring a favorite stuffed animal and blanket to the show.