'Aladdin Jr.' runs May 2-4 in Richland

By Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldApril 23, 2014 

Jayson Agli, 17, Kamiakin High School, plays Aladdin, Boston Taylor, 16, Kiona-Bention City High School, plays Jasmine and and Alex Veysey, 15, Kamiakin High, plays Jafar in the Academy of Children’s Theatre production of Aladdin Jr.


Playing a serious role when all you want to do is have fun can be one of the greatest challenges in acting.

That's what Southridge High sophomore Brenton Nundahl, 15, found out playing Princess Jasmine's father the sultan in the Academy of Children's Theatre upcoming production of Aladdin Jr., the Musical.

"The difficult part of the role is having to be the authority figure over Boston (Taylor), who plays Jasmine, because I'm really good friends with her. So, being hard on her is actually difficult," he said. "The best part of the role is the feeling I get when everyone is watching me make my announcements."

The musical includes all the familiar Disney elements: Princes and princesses, an evil character, a magical genie, comic adventures and a classic tale of young people trying to earn respect, said director Anne Spilman.

"The show also features outstanding set design, costuming and musical performances," Spilman added. "Count on plenty of laughs for the whole family."

It opens April 25 in the auditorium at Chief Joseph Middle School in Richland.

Boston plays Jasmine, the sultan's daughter who is in the midst of meeting potential husbands when Aladdin interrupts the proceedings by getting caught stealing a loaf of bread.

Aladdin is played by Jason Agli, 17, a senior at Kamiakin High in Kennewick; Hailey Howard, 15, a sophomore at Richland High, plays Lago the Parrot; the Genie is played by Matthew Smith, 11, a sixth-grade HomeLink student; and Alex Veysey, 15, Kamiakin High, plays Jafar.

"Jasmine is a very independent and spunky princess who wants to make her own choices in life," Boston said. "Being able to portray her personality is fun, difficult, exhilarating and challenging, a wonderful experience."

Hailey's parrot character definitely has its challenges as well as its entertaining side. She puppeteers the character of Lago, a hand-made puppet, using one hand that works the mouth while her other hand flaps his wings. She also speaks and sings for Lago.

"Playing Lago is very difficult because I puppeteer him the entire show," she said. "The character itself is very fun because Lago is terribly snarky and has no trouble speaking his mind."

The role of the Genie, Matthew says, has been some of the most fun he's had all year.

The cast has worked as closely as any family, said Agli, and his role as Aladdin was a fun and interesting.

"The hardest thing about the character was portraying a love interest with such a close friend as Boston," he said.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. April 25-26 and May 2-3 with 2 p.m. matinee May 4. Admission is $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and ages 13-18, and $7 for ages 12 and younger.

Tickets can be purchased at www.academyofchildrenstheatre.org or at the ACT studio, 213 Wellsian Way in Richland.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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