Review:Frederick Gent School pupils shine in Disney’s Aladdin Jr

Aladdin at Frederick Gent School, South Normanton
Aladdin at Frederick Gent School, South Normanton

Sweltering heat created the right atmosphere for a magic carpet ride through an Arabian night.

A scorching production of Disney’s Aladdin Jr this week took musical productions at Frederick Gent School, South Normanton, to a whole new level.

The talent and energy emanating from the cast was addictive and the imagination which had gone into the production proved that expensive special effects aren’t necessary to stage an entertaining show.

It’s always a surprise with any production of Aladdin to see how the cast pull off the famous magic carpet ride and this show provided an ingenious example. Charlotte Bakewell and Amelia Moakes operated the flying carpet, in this case a canopy attached to four poles, which they twisted and turned around our hero. Large swathes of black material studded with glitter were strung out across the back of the stage with cast members making them billow to give the impression of stars twinkling in the night sky.

The real stars were the pupils who brought this magical story to life. Dressed in some of the finest costumes I’ve seen in a school production, they gave many a professional version of this story a run for its money.

Jake Dye in the role of Aladdin was smiley, likeable and handled his transformation from poor ‘street’ rat to Prince Ali with confidence.

Hannah Clegg was every inch a pretty Princess Jasmine and had the voice to match. Her solo song Arabian Nights was outstanding and her signature duet with Jake in A Whole New World was one of the high spots.

Fantastic support came from Chester Krikken as the colourful genie, emerging as if by magic on the top deck of the spectators’ stand and lighting up the stage with his magnetism and witty wisecracks.

Stephen Collinge gave an equally commendable characterisation of the villainous vizier Jafar as did Alice Bradley playing the street-talking, under-appreciated parrot Iago.

Honours go to Callum Ball who did a fabulous job of playing the comical and inept guards’ leader Razoul. He learned the role in just a week, taking over from Lydia Jones after she injured her foot.

Jack Wilson made a big impression as the diminutive Sultan, as did Jordan Dewing, Josh Martin and Bradley Mansell who brought flamboyance and circus tricks to the stage in cameo oles of princes.

Disney’s Aladdin Jr was staged on Wednesday and Thursday this week, directed by Charlotte Bond, produced and choreographed by Jo Petch who was assisted in choreography by Alex Scruton and its musical director was Ross Donaldson.

GAY BOLTON