By JOSPEH PRATT
Portsmouth Elementary School’s choir, Trojan Express, will bring Aladdin to the stage this weekend full force with a new director, great music and excited youth. Students auditioned for the musical before their Christmas break and hit the ground running right after the new year. For two and a half months the students have been staying after school Monday through Thursday rehearsing an hour each night. Emily Smith is making her directorial debut with Aladdin, assisted by her mother, Judy Smith, who has been teaching and directing at Portsmouth Elementary for many years.
“I’m definitely learning a lot and it is definitely preparing me for one day doing bigger and better things with maybe older kids and adults, but this has definitely opened my eyes to the backstage of theatre. I’m usually doing the performing and this has thrust me into doing everything but performing,” Smith said.
“This show is going to be so much fun. It’s exciting and packed with so much energy, and these kids are so talented. I can give them one note and they can fix it immediately, which is amazing because these are 11- and 12-year-olds.”
Micah Simmons, a sixth-grade member of Trojan Express, is taking center stage as the role of Aladdin. Micah is no stranger to the stage, and has had many lead roles in his short theatrical career. Micah has performed in many community productions from Portsmouth Elementary School, Portsmouth Little Theatre, Shawnee State University, Portsmouth Museum, and Portsmouth Area Children’s Theatre.
“Aladdin is a thief who met the princess when she ran away from the castle. The only way he can see the Princess again is if he is a prince, so he finds a genie and wishes to become one,” Simmons said.”I really enjoy the music in this show, and the plot sequences in it are very good as well. I think everyone is going to enjoy it. This is going to be a really great show and I want to thank everyone who has supported the PES choir and drama club.”
Lauren Donges, a fifth-grade member of Trojan Express, is assuming the role of Princess Jasmine. Lauren has been involved in local theatrical groups such as Portsmouth Little Theatre and Portsmouth Area Children’s Theatre, but takes the stage with a notable character for the first time in this show.
“I’m playing Jasmine, a princess from Agrabah that runs away because she doesn’t want to be forced to marry someone. She runs away and bumps into Aladdin and it is love at first sight,” Donges said. “I love my character a lot and I was really surprised when I got the role. This is my first big role and I really enjoy it.”
Joshua “J.J.” Johnson, a sixth-grade member of Trojan Express, is assuming the role of Jafar, the villain of the story. This show will be J.J.’s second appearance on stage, after having a lead role in Portsmouth Elementary’s production of Annie last spring.
“I like my role a lot and it is really fun,” Johnson said. “I like being Jafar because I don’t have to be stuck at home just chilling and I can have something to do on my free time like take over the world.”
Sydney Shoupe, a fifth-grade member of Trojan Express, will be the assuming the role of Genie. Shoupe has starred in productions by Portsmouth Little Theatre and Portsmouth Area Children’s Theatre. Shoupe is also rehearsing for Portsmouth Little Theatre’s production of Annie, where she will take the stage as the lead character Annie.
“I’m playing the part of Genie. Genie is the magical guy from the lamp that makes Aladdin a prince. He is really funny and is always in people’s business,” Shoupe explained.” I really love theatre. I think I am really good at singing and these shows make me feel really good about myself.”
Savannah Givens, a sixth-grade Trojan Express member, is playing a beggar woman in this production. She is a second-year student of Trojan Express and has never missed a rehearsal.
“I like this show because it is really fun and creative and I hope people like it. The characters are really great in this show and all have different personalities; some are good, some are bad, some are funny, some are sad,” Givens said. “You really learn a lot about not judging a book by its cover from the story of Aladdin.”
Jaydren Guthrie, a sixth-grade member of Trojan Express, is assuming the role of Princess Jasmine’s father and king of Agrabah, the Sultan.
“I like my role a lot, because I like being king and bossing people around,” Guthrie said. “I like doing shows, because I get to sing and dance and get involved in things that I normally don’t get to.”
“These kids have been working really hard on Aladdin and if people are interested in watching a cute show with kids doing what they love to do, then they’ll love this show,” Smith said.
Aladdin will be presented in the Portsmouth Elementary School auditeria on Friday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 10, at 2 p.m. Tickets go on sale at the Fourth Street entrance before each showing, as a first-come, first-serve policy.
For more information, call Emily Smith at the school at 740-353-6719.
Joseph Pratt may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 240, or firstname.lastname@example.org.