News Column

Musical takes the young and old on enjoyable magic carpet ride

November 22, 2013


Nov. 22--The Eau Claire Children's Theatre's production of "Aladdin Jr." is sure to entrance audiences of all ages.

The special effects -- there are scenes where characters fly, strobe lights flare and fog rolls -- the humor, the music and the vibrant cast are sure to entertain everyone in The State Theatre.

"Aladdin Jr.," directed by Wayne Marek, follows the story of Princess Jasmine, who is set to be married to a prince. However, Jasmine is unsatisfied with her choice of suitors. Her father and his trusty second-in-command, Jafar, selected princes who represent icons from the past, such as Elvis and The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. But Jasmine wishes she could be with the "street rat," Aladdin, whom she met when she snuck away from the palace.

But according to law, Jasmine must marry a prince, and, therefore, it causes a dilemma.

The production sticks pretty closely to the plot of the popular 1994 Disney animated movie "Aladdin." However, there are some changes that make the play new for everyone whether or not they've seen the film.

Jafar (Dan Ekblad), Iago (Sergio Sigala) and the guards sing a song in both acts of the play that was not heard in the movie, "Why Me?" Otherwise the well-known songs such as "A Whole New World," "Prince Ali" and "Arabian Nights" fill up the hour-long production.

The play also is missing the characters of Abu and Rajah, while giving the guards larger roles than they saw in the movie version.

But all in all, the plot is similar and enjoyable to viewers of all ages.

Paige Vasel was a lovely choice for Princess Jasmine. Her voice stole the show, especially in her first-act solo of "One Jump Ahead" and her duet with Kelan Smith (Aladdin) in "A Whole New World."

For the men of the cast, Nathan Libby (Genie) stood out among the others. He drew the most laughs from the audience, and his scene during the song "Friend Like Me," where he was flying around the stage, had the audience "oohing" and "aahing."

The actors did a good job bringing their given characters to life, and the music -- aside from the one or two ballads in the show -- was upbeat and fun to listen to.

However, because this is a show geared toward children, the audience is more youthful than most. People who attend the show should expect young children to be crying or anxiously talking to their parents throughout the performance. That was the only downside to an otherwise entertaining performance.

"Aladdin Jr." has shows at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday as well as shows at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at The State Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

Syrstad can be reached at 715-833-9206, 800-236-7077 or


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