FARMINGTON — In the ancient city of Agrabah, Princess Jasmine’s father, the Sultan, tells Jasmine she must choose a husband.
The stage at Eagle Bay Elementary has been transformed into that ancient city, where 70 students in the school’s drama club performed the Disney musical “Aladdin, Jr.” against a backdrop of the Royal Palace in the desert.
Scenery was constructed and painted by students, teachers and parents, said Trish Packer, one of the co-directors of the production and a resource teacher.
“It is a well-known story,” said Brittany Ryder, another co-director, when explaining why the musical was chosen.
“It’s fun for the younger grades to follow,” said co-director Sara Stevens.
All three work with the students, who choose to be in the drama club and meet early Wednesday mornings and after school on Thursdays.
“There are about 70 children in it, so at first it was daunting. But it’s a good experience, and the children really enjoy it,” said Ryder, who along with Stevens, is a fourth-grade teacher.
Because of the high number of young actors, there are two casts for “Aladdin, Jr.,” with each cast supporting the other with the music.
Jordan Farenswortch, in her character of Jasmine, said, “I will marry when I want and who I want. I want my freedom.”
The stage was filled with actors clothed in bright colors depicting the various characters in the play.
The story line follows that of the original musical “Aladdin” but is much shorter. Some of the Disney productions are done as “Jr.” plays, making it easier for younger actors to perform them.
The young voices sing “Arabian Nights,” “A Whole New World” and other familiar tunes from the musical. And some of the songs are different from those in “Aladdin.”
Aladdin, portrayed by 12-year-old Ben Roylance, is a bread thief who is captured and placed in a cave because the dungeon is full. There, a genie pops out of the lamp Aladdin discovered in the cave.
It was the first play Ben has taken part in, but it won’t be his last, because he enjoyed the experience.
“Acting isn’t about trying to get everything right, it is about trying to have fun with it,” Ben said.
With her face painted solid blue and wearing a blue satin costume, Cassidy Bauco said she has been acting since she was 7.
“You go into another person’s body and can be completely different,” Cassidy said.
On getting up early on Wednesdays to practice, she said, “It was hard but completely worth it.”
She and her good friend both played the part of the Genie but in different casts, so they carpooled to the early morning practices.
“Me and my friend are really crazy, so we like to act,” Cassidy said. “Everyone is happy ever after.”
Twelve-year-old Jaxon Singley was the Sultan who said he learned “to try to make everyone happy and to be a good ruler.”
“It was really hard work, but once all the stuff was done, it was worth it,” Jaxon said.
According to director Parker, Eagle Bay is such a big school, they had to limit the age at which students can participate in the drama club.
“I know younger students would like to do it, but it is just fourth- and fifth-grade students,” she said.
“I think this is a great opportunity that they may not have elsewhere,” said Angie Bauco, Cassidy’s mother. “It’s fun to see her blossom. She would never practice for me at home; she wanted me to wait and see her here.”