Four performances of ‘Aladdin KIDS’ set for this weekend

Photo courtesy Bill Hudson
The Genie (Ashlyn Moore) explains her magical powers to Aladdin (Christian Gonzales) and his pet monkey, Abu (Gabriel Gonzales), during a rehearsal for Thingamajig Theatre Company’s upcoming production of Disney’s “Aladdin KIDS,” playing this weekend at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. The family-friendly production features 66 children and new musical arrangements based on the 1992 Disney movie.

By Bill Hudson
Special to The PREVIEW
Sixty-six budding young theater stars, ages 6-12, have been working (and playing) hard at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts for the past three weeks — under the guidance of Thingamajig Theatre Company’s professional staff and interns — preparing for performances of Disney’s “Aladdin KIDS” this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 19-21. The children have been split into two complementary casts of 33 students each, and each cast will present two performances this weekend: on Friday at 2 p.m., on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., and on Sunday at 6 p.m.
Aladdin and his friends are down on their luck until Aladdin discovers a magic lamp and releases a genie who has the power to grant wishes. Hoping to earn the respect (and love) of the beautiful Princess Jasmine, Aladdin embarks on an adventure that tests his will, and his moral character. Based on the award-winning 1992 Disney film, this family-friendly version features expanded characters and new songs guaranteed to open up “a whole new world” for young audiences.
The cast includes second- and third-grade students from Pagosa Peak Open School who are participating by special arrangement with Thingamajig Theatre. Pagosa Peak Open School is a publicly funded, year-round, tuition-free charter school open to all Archuleta County families.
Also appearing in the musical production are children of numerous local and visiting families — including two talented brothers who will each be handling the role of Aladdin in one of the two groups. Christian Gonzales, one of the two Aladdins, is currently appearing in the Thingamajig 2019 summer season production of “The Who’s Tommy” as the 10-year-old version of that play’s lead character. He and his brother Daniel — who will appear as Aladdin in the opposite cast — are visiting from Branson, Mo., this summer with their parents, Perry Davis Harper and Amelia Harper, both of whom have lead acting and singing roles in Thingamajig’s current Broadway in the Mountains musical theater season. Amelia Harper is playing Donna in “Mamma Mia!” and Harper Davis is playing Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in “Jekyll and Hyde, the Musical.”
Although the kids’ camp is focused mainly on the “Aladdin” performances, the children have been exposed to all aspects of theater production, as well as a range of acting techniques, taught by Thingamajig’s crew of professional actors and technicians.
“The counselors take turns leading the children through various activities, and we help them review all the material that they’ve learned,” explained Danielle Poznanovic during a break in the camp’s busy schedule last week.
In addition to helping to lead the camp, Poznanovic sings lead roles in the main stage productions of “The Who’s Tommy” and “Alice in Wonderland.”
“We were doing improv games with the kids today, and [actor] Caleb Michael came out and did a playwriting exercise where they had to collaborate on writing a short play. Then they got into groups of three where one of them was the director and the other two acted out the play,” Poznanovic continued. “So, they’re not just learning ‘Aladdin.’ They get to experience all kinds of creative aspects.
“Some of the kids might be more into set design, for example, and we did a costume design activity the other day with [company costumer designer] Nanette Cheffers, and we did lighting design with [company lighting designer] Laine Wong.
“So, they get exposure to all different aspects of theater.”
A separate group of local teens is appearing this summer, alongside a number of the company’s professional actors, in Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland,” with performances every Saturday at 11 a.m. through Aug. 31. Many of those teen actors are past graduates of Thingamajig’s kids’ camp.
Thingamajig Theatre has been conducting annual summer theater camps for kids since 2012, and recent musical productions have included “Annie,” “Willie Wonka” and “Seussical the Musical.”
“Aladdin KIDS” will be performed in the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts’ Black Box Theatre.
Tickets for this weekend’s “Aladdin KIDS” are $5 for adults and are available at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts website, pagosacenter.org, as well as at the center’s box office (call for box office hours, 731-7459) and at the door.
Thingamajig Theatre Company is an award-winning professional nonprofit 501(c)(3) theater in residence within the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Its talented actors, directors and designers come from across the U.S. and around the world to produce musicals, comedies and dramas year-round.
For information on how to donate, purchase tickets and get further show information, please visit pagosacenter.org or call 731-SHOW (7469).

This story was posted on July 19, 2019.