April 24th, 2024

St. Francis Junior High set to entertain with Aladdin Jr.


By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on March 9, 2024.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman St. Francis Junior High School drama students run through a scene from their latest production Aladdin Jr.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Drama students from St. Francis Junior High School are gearing up to welcome members of the community to enjoy their latest production of Aladdin Jr. beginning Tuesday at the school’s gymnasium.

Director Dino Caputo spoke to media Friday and said playgoers can expect professional level theatre put on by junior high school students.

“We have to fight the battle of you coming to watch a junior high show in a gymnasium,” Caputo said. “First off you’re not coming to see that. If you can see the transformation that happens in our gym you wouldn’t even think it was a gym. What you’re coming to see is a professional show, the only thing is that they’re junior high aged kids and we take a lot of pride in that.”

Caputo said they strive for excellence, and during the 20 years he has been doing musicals, students have always aimed for perfection.

“We always shoot for perfection with everything. We know that perfection can never be reached, but we’re going to try our darnedest to make it there and that’s what you’ll see.”

He explained the casting process started in October, and they had the cast ready by early November.

“Then they started rehearsals. We started with choreography and music and then we’ll move on to actually putting everything together into what you see in our final product here on Tuesday.”

He said they even though this is the second time they are performing Aladdin, the music and cast is different so it’s like they are doing it for the first time.

“We had done Aladdin 13 years ago. It’s a fun show and the cool thing about it is that it’s actually a different script from the last time we did it, so there’s still some originality to it.”

Caputo said there are 65 cast members on stage and another 12 off stage helping out with the production.

Grade 9 student Ben Hunt, who plays Aladdin, said he is honoured to be playing the main role in the production and he is excited to perform in front of an audience one last time.

“It’s a lot of work, but it ends up paying off,” Hunt said. “All the memories that you make with the family of the cast and everybody, it’s just a great experience.”

He said after all the time and effort put into rehearsals, it’s now time to get the show up and running.

“Ever since January it’s been mainly a full cast, but closer to the beginning of the show there were a couple times where I had to go and work with Jasmine just to get some notes figured out.”

He said he hopes to continue with theatre next year when he’s in high school but he is sad to be leaving St. Francis Junior High School after spending three years with the drama department.

“I did Beauty and the Beast in Grade 7 and last year I did High School Musical. It’s a great opportunity to get out of your shell and be able to just have fun with people and perform and entertain and bring joy to the audience.”

Grade 9 student Violet VandenBerg, who plays Cassim, said she is very excited to be playing Aladdin’s best friend and to be part of the production in general.

“It’s definitely so amazing to be a part of the show. My character is, I would say, the funny kind of leading friend of the group, besides Aladdin, and it’s definitely very like easy to get into,” said VandenBerg.

She shared her experience seeing the stage being built in the gym and how she was so excited to see it happening, she ran around the school telling everyone about it.

“I saw the stage getting set up a couple days ago and I couldn’t help but run around the school telling all my friends that the stage is getting set up and I was going to be able to dance on the stage again after waiting a whole year.”

Aladdin Jr. begins today and runs until Saturday, with daily shows at 7 p.m. and an extra matinee show on Saturday for a total of six performances open to the general public.

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