CMS’s 'Aladdin Jr.' a large-scale learning success

By William Hunt | May 14, 2014
Photo by: Mikell Webb (Left to Right) Eric Meyer, Madisen Smith, Molly Spruill, Rachel Worley, Savannah McEntire, Cecelia Tucker, Ansley Goolsby, Marleigh Meadows, Amy Hunt, Tessa Rabideau, Hannah Muse, Jenna Clark, Cayla Hicks, Arista Hunsucker, Mikaela Waterman, Katherine Webb, Kennedy Sorrells, MaeAnna Norris, Kaylee Smith

The Canton Middle School Chorus program, led by director James Markey, worked tirelessly from January through early May to produce the musical "Aladdin Jr." for the CMS auditorium stage.  The production culminated in three triumphant shows May 9-10.

With over 50 students involved in the production, "Aladdin Jr." was definitely a large, complex undertaking. Faculty and staff lent their support as well, as did parents and community members, to help bring this production to the bright auditorium lights.

All aspects of stagecraft were taught by Markey and supporting faculty and tackled enthusiastically by his student cast and crew.

I enjoyed all the experience I got from 'Aladdin,'" said Rachel Worley, eighth-grader, who played a narrator. "I also loved getting to perform in front of a live audience."

Sydney Lyles, a seventh-grader who played Iago, said it was a great experience.

"Playing as the evil sidekick parrot bird was actually pretty fun," she said.

Carter Binkley, a seventh-grader cast in the role of Jafar, liked the challenge of performing in front of an audience. Plus, "I got to make new friends."

Once the curtain rose on the production’s three shows, the students’ learning and strong efforts were clearly evident. All aspects of the show were stellar — performance (acting, singing, dancing), set design and set changing, costuming and hair and makeup, and technical (sound, lighting).

"It was hard work, but it was all worth it once the show was performed," said Hailey Stewart, the eighth-grade stage manager for the production.

Even the show’s director was blown away by the quality of what the students were able to produce.

"In my 11 years of teaching, I have never been so moved by a group of students working so hard and so well together," said Markey. "These students were truly invested in this production, and those present witnessed solid evidence of the vital role that the arts can play in the development of our young people."

One of the best outcomes of the show, in addition to all the learning that took place, was the evidence of many new bonds of friendship made among the cast, with students in all three grade levels intermingling with great success.

Brooke Garland, a seventh-grader and one of the lead dancers in the production, loved showing her talents on the stage and getting a chance to work so closely with her friends.

"My favorite part of being in "Aladdin" was making new friends," said Abigail Shoemaker, a seventh-grader and lead dancer.

The camaraderie extended beyond the campus, too, as attested by eighth-grader Tessa Rabideau, who played Genie.  Her favorite memory of the show came after the final curtain.  She and a group of fellow cast mates went out together for a commemorative meal.

"We had a really fun celebration," she said.

Nate Hannah, the eighth-grader who portrayed the lead role of Aladdin, summed things up marvelously.

"The entire production was fortunate enough to have as much of a talent pool to work with and some great people to help with every little nuance to make the show that much better," he said.


William Hunt is a media coordinator at Canton Middle School.