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By Staff | Jul 12, 2013

Riley Grove, left, goes over a scene with director Kyle Vareberg.

Kids and adults alike are familiar with the Oscar-winning “Aladdin”, a hit animated film for Disney in the 1990s.

Now area kids are bringing the production to life for Village Arts in Aladdin Jr.

The play, directed by Kyle Vareberg, features a cast of 40 children and follows the original pretty closely.

“The locations are different because it’s really hard in a stage play to send someone shooting thousands of miles, but all of the characters are the same and the classic songs are all the same,” Vareberg said.

The performances are scheduled for July 25, 26, 27 at the Rugby High School auditorium with a matinee planned for the final day.

Andee Mattson directs a chorus group practicing a number for the upcoming Village Arts production of Aladdin Jr.

Tammy Kruger is the stage manager for the production.

She said there is only one major character change, which was a tough one for the kids in the production to swallow.

“Aladdin Jr. is really a shortened version of Aladdin,” she said. “It’s the same basic story line. We do not have Abu in this story, which made the kids kind of sad.”

Theresa Mack and Andie Mattson are assisting on the music, and the production also has some teenage helpers: Rachel Mack, Darby Deckert and ReeAnn Christianson, to help with the mass of young performers.

“With 40 kids running around, Kyle’s giving me a hard time,” Kruger joked. “He said you’re the official child wrangler. That’s part of why we have the teenagers. It helps us bring them back in.”

The group just started rehearsing and will continue trying to rehearse two hours a day for the next couple weeks before running through three dress rehearsals.

“In the summer, obviously, there’s conflicts,” Kruger said. “By next week we’re hoping most of the kids will be here so we can go through everything.”

The play is broken into two acts, with the first following Aladdin as he impersonates a prince in pursuit of Princess Jasmine.

There is plenty of familiarity within the group of the musical, which can be both positive and negative.

“I think there’s probably a good number of kids (who know the songs),” Vareberg said. “They’re picking up the songs like crazy. Most of them know it, which, can be a downfall because they don’t want to relearn it.”

Kruger said there’s a lot of anticipation, both in the community and among the cast, for the performances.

“There’s been a lot of excitement so far,” she said. “We had auditions the middle of May. I know there were some people who couldn’t make auditions who were disappointed.”

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