After a two-year pause in live performances, the performing arts department at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School (CVR) once again graced the stage with a spectacular production of the Broadway adaptation of Disney’s Aladdin.
Based on the 1992 animated film, the musical is set in the fictional Arabian city of Agrabah, where poor boy Aladdin (Jaylen Clarke) uses three wishes granted by a magical genie (Mikael Mailloux) to woo princess Jasmine (Malorie Summers), all while thwarting the plans of evil Jafar (Tristan Beauvais), grand vizier to the sultan (Tim Deng), to overturn the kingdom.
CVR’s take on the classic rags-to-riches tale was a fast-paced romp with vibrant costumes, familiar songs, an elaborate set, and exceptional performances. And, after having navigated a “whole new world” through the pandemic, the lifting of COVID-19 measures in time for the show was nothing less than a wish come true for the department.
“We are really, really lucky and privileged to be able to do this this year,” says Summers, noting that the senior class is very aware that the two previous groups were kept from experiencing the thrill of performing for family and friends on stage. It was announced in early September the department would be producing Aladdin, but it became clear early into the year that the performance would not take place in January as per tradition. On top of regular schoolwork, as well as memorizing lines, lyrics and choreography, the students also worried about what the final production might look like.
“There was a legacy to hold up as well,” says Mailoux, who suggests they felt additional pressure to go big. “There were a lot of expectations,” adds Clarke, of the perceived need to live up to the program’s reputation. “It was a lot of fun, too,” says Mailoux, whose portrayal of the charismatic genie brought down the house.
The fact that students had the entire year to prepare also weighed on the cast and crew. “Because we had some much time, we procrastinated a bit,” admits Summers, who says things came together during a five-hour-long rehearsal the day before their first live show. “Rehearsing for so long, you feel proud of what you’ve accomplished – it a year of work.”
That being said, “Friend Like Me is going to haunt us forever,” laughs cast member Aaltje Sprengel, who admits she had never danced before joining the production. “I know a little more about me now,” she says.
The cast credits the tech and backstage crews for their excellent work, and when asked about the impact of teachers Lynn Harper, Dawna Babin, and Joyce Rudisel, the students admit they could not have come so far without their guidance and support.