Mister Aladdin, sir/ What will your pleasure be?/Let me take your order/Jot it down/You ain’t never had a friend like me. These are lyrics in the song “Friend Like Me,” sung by the Genie after Aladdin freed him from the magic lamp in Roberta Jones Junior Theatre’s “Aladdin.” The show ran at the Community Recreation Center from June 10-12.
“This story of Aladdin is the same as Disney’s Aladdin and is an adaptation of the original story,” says Kevin Cornelius, recreation supervisor for the Santa Clara City Parks and Recreation Department. ” I believe the theme of the Disney story is that the diamond in the rough is as valuable as an actual prince. The message of this show is that true love is more important than someone’s wealth or social class.”
Mateo Urquidez, 12, played Aladdin. He and Rylee Weon, 11, who played Princess Jasmine, dreamily sang the famous duet “A Whole New World,” on top of a rug over a coffee table with wheels.
“Once we got used to singing on Avis, the magic carpet, we rehearsed being pushed around by four cast members,” Urquidez says. “Since we were going around the stage on the magic carpet, we were showing that we were going to different destinations, with the Statue of Liberty, the Great Wall of China, and the Eiffel Tower in the background.”
For Weon, the role of Princess Jasmine was her first leading part in a production.
“Playing a strong female character was hard at first because the acting was different from what I’m used to doing,” Weon says. ” I feel I’ve acted other people’s roles in the past, but not my own. But this time, I feel like I’m playing my own character.”
The Genie, played by Jessica O’Gorman, 14, had a jovial presence.
“I believe the genie wanted to help Aladdin as much as he could and he wanted to make sure that Aladdin was with Jasmine and that he had a happy life,” says O’Gorman, reflecting on the Genie’s character motivation. “My personality is extremely similar to the Genie’s personality. I’m very outgoing and I’m very loud. I like to make people happy.”
Jafar, played by Alex Yang, 13, was the villain who Princess Jasmine was being forced to marry. When Jafar seized the Genie, he foolishly wished to become the most powerful genie.
“It was fun to play a bad guy because I could let loose. I didn’t have to worry about anyone thinking I was mean because I was supposed to be mean,” Yang says. “If I had a free wish, I would not be as selfish as the other characters. I would wish for something that would help everyone, such as ending world hunger.”