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Aladdin Jr.’s young cast draws raves / June 08, 2015
On May 31, something new hit the stage of the Prizery. Audiences were wowed by the talent of homegrown kids right here in Halifax County who star in the Summer Theater Celebration’s latest production, Aladdin Jr.

In an almost summer camp-like atmosphere, local students ages 7-18 have spent the last couple months learning lines and stage cues at the direction of Artistic Director Chris Jones.

Who are these young players, you might ask, and what drew them to the stage?

Mary McLaughlin is a 13 year old student at Halifax County Middle School who is playing one of the narrators in Aladdin Jr. She joined the cast in part because she’s always loved the music in “Aladdin,” the Disney movie which the production is based on. “I’ve been in plays before, and I enjoyed the experience. I love the people, and I feel comfortable around them. I get satisfaction from working with others to make a show come together,” she said about her reasons for wanting to be a part of the Summer Theatre Celebration. “The audience will love this whimsical production. We’ve got a lot of talented actresses and actors.”

Featured in the cast of the beloved children’s story is Chelsea Lavinder, who graces the stage as Princess Jasmine. She is a recently graduated homeschooled student in Halifax County. When asked about why she wanted to be in a play, her enthusiastic response was, “I love theatre! I’ve been performing since I was eight years old. I like to take every opportunity that I get!” Chelsea is “really excited to put on a fun show for the audiences, and have fun doing what I love with lots of old and new friends.”

Audience members will get quite the kick out of Jason Fitts’s role as Iago, the trash-talking sidekick to the villain, Jafar. Jason is a 17 year student at Halifax County High and decided to join the cast of Aladdin Jr. to “experience a story from the character’s eyes.” When asked about being in Aladdin Jr. this summer, he stated he was looking forward to “the fact that I can share this great experience with so many great and talented young people.”

Some of Prizery patrons may recall the debut of Ryan Crawford in the title role in Summer Theatre’s 2013 rendition of Oliver — when he won the hearts of the audience the same way Oliver won the hearts of critics on Broadway. You might have caught a glimpse of Ryan in Les Mis last summer as Gavroche, the bravest of the “little people” who died valiantly at the barricade. This summer, Ryan is playing Razoul in Aladdin Jr. and he’s sure to steal the show in his attempts to keep Aladdin from stealing, well, everything from apples to Jasmine’s heart.

“Aladdin Jr. is such an exciting show and a great way to start summer theatre,” said Ryan about his latest role. “I’ve always loved to sing around the house and when I was eight, I asked my parents to take me to the auditions for Oliver! Ever since I performed as Oliver Twist in the Prizery’s production, I fell in love with acting. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to perform in such a wonderful theatre for my third summer.” Ryan will also be featured as the Mayor of Munchkin Land in the Wizard of Oz later this June, and in the fall, Ryan will be a fifth grade student at Sacred Heart School in Danville. That’s right, Ryan is only 10 years old!

You do not want to miss any of his performances this summer at the Prizery because this kid is really going places — and you’ll want to be able to look back and say, “I saw him when.”

Aladdin Jr. will show every Saturday in June at 10:30 a.m. The production runs between 60 and 80 minutes. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $6 for students. Ryan, Mary, Chelsea, and Jason cannot wait to see you in the audience!

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