This year’s choice for a musical drama at the Suffield Middle School was Aladdin, Jr., and a great choice it was. Adapted from a Disney animation of a version of the marvelous old fairy tale, the script offered the opportunity to involve a tremendous cast on stage, colorfully costumed in great variety and make good use even of the school’s “Elite Voices” choir. Sixty kids performing and 31 more in vital supporting tasks obviously had a great time, and audiences in the SMS auditorium on February 22, 23, and 24 enjoyed the production fully.
There have been many versions of the Aladdin story over the centuries, and this one featured the “diamond in the rough” street boy who becomes involved with a Middle Eastern princess who must choose a husband. Offered a poor choice among three visiting princes, she eventually finds Aladdin, who is transformed into “Prince Ali” with the first of three wishes offered by the genie he has inadvertently released from a magic lamp. The story gets pretty complicated, but a quintet of singing narrators helps to explain the action. There are some serious soliloquies, but the play is full of happy action, colorful crowd scenes, and glorious dance numbers, some with the chorus dancing down in front of the stage.
There were many principal roles, all well carried, and much of the action centered on good-natured Aladdin/Ali, happily played by Jack Burke, but this reviewer would say that Brynna Tinnirella, who enthusiastically portrayed the genie, was the star of this production. And the scheming pair, villainous vizier Jafar (Isabell Jiang) and Iago, Jafar’s nefarious sidekick parrot (Kiara Matos-Luna), added evil intensity as the plot developed.
The Sultan (Sophia Mormino), impressively garbed with an extraordinary turban, and sweet Princess Jasmine (Alora McClosky), battered this way and that by the twists of the plot, were also notable, along with a perky little guard with a big scimitar (Joseph Colangelo).
The costuming was wonderfully bright, ingenious, and diverse, and the two major sets – a Taj Mahal-like mosque in Act I and a big stone arch doorway in Act II, which parted to reveal the mosque for the final bows – were impressively designed and executed.
Tyler Wolfson, the teacher who directed this successful production, spoke at the end, identifying a list of the staffers and others who helped.