In many of its versions and retellings, the legend of Aladdin has captured the imaginations of children around the world. So it seems only fitting that Live Oak Theatre's Acorn Theatre, a theatre of, by and for young people, will perform “Aladdin Jr.” March 18 through March 28 at the Carol and Frank Morsani Center for the Arts, 21030 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville. Seats are $15 for adults and $8 for children ages 13 and under when accompanied by an adult. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening shows are at 7:30 PM; Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2:30 PM.
“Aladdin Jr.” is performed through the generosity of Jonathan McDonald and Sinkhole Titan Company. "We were only able to do the show, due to the generosity of Jonathan McDonald. Covid certainly put a damper on our revenue," said Vince Vanni, Live Oak spokesperson. "If he had not come forward, we would never have been able to afford the rights for all these performances."
Due to McDonald's generosity, Vanni said, Acorn Theatre can bring a true classic, with original twists, to their stage. " ‘Aladdin’ is a true chestnut," he said.
“Aladdin Jr.” is a fresh take on the timeless fantasy and love story, featuring the beloved characters Aladdin, the “willy street urchin,” beautiful princess Jasmine, and of course the “fast-talking” comedic Genie.
Acorn Theatre, Live Oak’s Youth Theatre program for students ages 8-18 was launched in 2020. The young theatre group will work together to produce and perform 3 shows each year as well as participate in Brooksville’s annual Tree Lighting.
The Acorn Theatre production team consists of rotating Directors/Instructors assisted by a team of apprentices in the areas of stage manager, assistant director, costumes, choreography, lighting, sound, music, and set design. Parent volunteers are always welcomed in these areas as well.
Acorn Theatre apprentices are chosen from regular performers of Live Oak who have “grown-up” on their stage. They assume leadership roles in the production and mentor the students of the Youth Theatre; who themselves assume key roles in Acorn Theatre productions.
The team of Katie Moore, senior director, and Stephania Torres, student director, are helming Acorn Theatre's production of Aladdin Jr.
"We are training our own directors, and this is the perfect opportunity to give them firsthand experience," said Vanni. "Like interns with residents."
Their production draws its origins from the original tale of Aladdin, first published in the 1704 French translation of the Middle Eastern “Tales from the Arabian Nights” by Antoine Galland.
Many literary experts believe that the story’s numerous versions and retellings stand as a continual tribute to the story’s inspirational qualities among generations of young readers.
Among the most popular retellings of this family-geared legend was a 1992 Oscar-winning film that featured the voice of Robin Williams as the story's signature Genie. This blockbuster film inspired storybooks, coloring books, an ice show, a 2014 hit Broadway show, and Disney’s Aladdin Jr., a fresh take on a timeless tale that features expanded characterizations, new songs, and more adventures.
Vanni encourages audiences to buy tickets early for Aladdin Jr.
“On the last weekend of Adventures in Wonderland, we turned away no less than four groups of people who wanted tickets. Due to Covid restrictions, we can no longer ‘squeeze people in.’ We had the same issue for the second weekend of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest.’ I say this to encourage people to consider buying tickets for the first weekend. Many people feel that they need to wait ‘until the cast gets it right.’ That is never the case with Live Oak. We pride ourselves on preparation. In fact, opening weekend…and especially opening night…has an electricity that cannot be duplicated. We often hear that from people who attend more than one performance,” states Vanni.
Live Oak is carefully monitoring and maintaining CDC guidelines for this and every performance. Due to the nature of socially distanced seating, and the limited ticket availability for each performance, all tickets must be reserved. Payments must also be made in advance either online, by mail or by dropping off a check at the box office.
Live Oak Theatre Company (LOT) is a not-for-profit 501 (C) (3) repertory company of local artists, located at the Carol and Frank Morsani Center for the Arts, 21030 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville, FL 34601. For more information about the Live Oak Theatre Company, including sponsorship and audition opportunities, call 352-593-0027, email [email protected], or go to www.LiveOakTheatre.org. Visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LiveOakTheatre.