We’ve all been there. Stuck in a city in the desert, being forced to steal to survive. And suddenly, a shady-looking guy carrying a staff with a giant cobra head on top comes along and offers us the opportunity of a lifetime. I mean nobody with a cobra staff is going to do something underhanded, right? But, to our genuine surprise, he does turn out to be a bad guy and we’re trapped in a cave. Until, that is, we find a lamp. It’s old and tarnished, so we rub it with our sleeve and—BLAMMO—out comes a genie! Said genie, who sounds an awful lot like the late, great Robin Williams, sets us free and makes us into a rich, powerful prince so that we can woo the sultan’s beautiful daughter.
Okay, so maybe that hasn’t happened to all of us. Or any of us. Except for Aladdin, of course. It’s a tale as old as time—oops, wrong Disney play. But it is a tale we all know and love. And the Actors Guild of Parkersburg’s Guild Builders do an admirable job of bringing that story to life. As it is the junior version of the story, it is a pared down production, but the really well-known numbers, like “Friend Like Me” and “A Whole New World”, are here. Under the direction, of Douglas Parks, this is a truly enjoyable show.
No production of Aladdin would be worth watching without a strong Genie, and Willow Peyton provides that. Her energy level is through the roof and she definitely does justice to the part. In order to make the part believable, the actor needs to buy completely into it, without an ounce of self-consciousness or reservation. Ms. Peyton puts it all out there. The same is true of Braden Deguzman as Aladdin and Olivia Welch as Jasmine. Their rendition of the famous duo, complete with a ride on an ingenious “flying carpet”, is quite entertaining.
Representing the evil side of the ledger are the gleefully evil Devon Martin as Jafar and his toady Iago, played effectively by Sophia D’Eramo. The rest of the cast does an equally good job. Of particular note are Aiden Klingler, Clare Walker, and Kaleb Windland as Aladdin’s longsuffering friends and Jack Peyton as the Sultan.
As with any youth production based on a well-known Disney movie, just don’t come in expecting them to reproduce the film and you’ll enjoy yourself. And beyond the performances of the cast, you’ll enjoy the tremendous work put in on the set, costumes, props, and special effects.
The curtain goes up on Friday, January 18 at 8:00pm. Subsequent evening performances will take place on the 19th, 21st, and 26th. Matinees will take place at 2:30pm on January 20th and 26th. You may get tickets by calling the box office at 304-485-1300 or by going online. This is a well-known show with a large talented cast of young people, so don’t be surprised if tickets sell fast. If you want to see it, you should reserve your tickets soon. You will be glad you did.