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Theatre group brings magic to Erskine School

Alberta Opera said “open sesame” and Erskine School opened its doors to the theatre group’s performance of ‘Aladdin’ on Monday, May 12.
Aladdin and his mother rejoice in their newfound fortune during a performance at Erskine School on Monday

Alberta Opera said “open sesame” and Erskine School opened its doors to the theatre group’s performance of ‘Aladdin’ on Monday, May 12.

“Live theatre is always so valuable,” said Erskine School principal Debra Spiller. “Some children wouldn’t get a chance to see live theatre, so it’s really important.”

Students from Erskine, Botha and Donalda were entertained by the classic story of ‘Aladdin,’ but with some twists.

In this version, Aladdin is a poor thief who lives with his mother. He finds a magic ring that grants him unlimited wishes, and soon he is rich and engaged to Yesenia, the sultan’s daughter. But when both Yesenia and the sultan’s subjects keep asking him for money, he gets fed up and wishes to be alone. He’s transported to a deserted island, where he meets a man and his “wife” (actually a stick with eyes) who have lived alone for years. The man teaches Aladdin to be grateful for what he has. And when Aladdin later gets control of the genie, he uses his wishes to make the genie and the magic ring vanish forever, so that no one person is exposed to ultimate power.

In between plot points, characters would also sing songs and dance, accompanied by piano or drums.

The 19 characters were played by three actors. One of them, Byron Trevor Martin, played nine parts.

What makes Alberta Opera noteworthy is that they use students in their performances as well. Eight actors and eight stage crew volunteered or were chosen by staff members.

“It’s a tradition for Alberta Opera,” said Adam Sanders, who played Aladdin. “It’s fun for the school.”

Though he added that sometimes the students get nervous and they have had participants back out of the play, most of the time she get into it very well.

“They’re highly energized, as you can tell,” Spiller said. “They’re really pumped.”

The students in stage crew took down the set, cued the audience when to applaud, and held up lyrics so the audience could sing along. The actors pretended to be Aladdin’s hysterical fans and servants of the sultan.

Though Alberta Opera does sometime perform for adult audiences, most of the time they tour around the province and perform for schools.

“You get a real response from children,” Sanders said. “If they’re not appreciating the show, they’re not going to laugh with you. If they really are, they’re going to be laughing at everything, and they’re very open and receptive to us, as opposed to adult audiences who – in this style of show – I feel are more closed off and don’t really get into the comedy of the show.”

He added that children are better at imagining the scenes presented, such as the Cave of Wonders.

“When you look into the audience you can see their eyes popping…they’re really imagining it, and that’s what’s really cool about kids,” he said.

Alberta opera also performed for Big Valley and Byemoor at Big Valley School in the afternoon.