Though the classrooms are empty of a high school’s usual hustle and bustle, Howe Sound Secondary was abuzz just after lunch on Wednesday as about 40 theatre students rushed back into the lobby heading for the Eagle Eye Theatre.
The annual three-week Broadway or Bust Performing Arts (BOB) camp participants had just finished lunch, which they take on the school field, and were ready to become their characters again.
This season, to cap off the end of the camp, the Squamish Academy of Music’s program is putting on Disney’s Aladdin JR, based on the 1992 film and the 2014 Broadway show.
Audiences can catch the 1.5-hour performances on Friday, July 28 or Saturday, July 29 (7 p.m. starts).
For those who have somehow not seen the mega-hit story, it follows a poverty-stricken Aladdin and his friends — and Jasmine, a restless princess — along their trials and tribulations. Aladdin discovers a magic lamp and Genie with the power to grant three wishes. Bad guy Jafar wants the lamp for his evil purposes. Hilarity, moral lessons and many songs ensue before the curtains close.
The Squamish cast has performers that range in age from seven to 17.
Melissa Braun, founder of the program, told The Squamish Chief this play was picked for its light tone and fun musical numbers.
“Last year we did Newsies, which is a little bit more emotional ... a little more serious in tone. So, I think we didn’t want to do something that was the same as that [this time]. We wanted to go in another direction,” she said.
Three cast members discussed their roles in the upcoming performance.
Willow Paull plays Isir, one of Jasmine’s devoted attendants.
“It’s really fun to do all this dancing and stuff,” Paull said. “I really like my character this year. I think it’s very nice.”
Holly Zimmer plays Rajah, another attendant.
“I really liked the character because it’s really singing-focused this year for me, which is really exciting,” she said.
Emily Dirks plays Babkak, Aladdin’s buddy.
“It’s so fun. He’s really funny. He loves food. He’s not the smartest, so it’s a really fun character to play,” she said.
Asked to recall a favourite funny line her character says, she shouted, “Falafel? Did someone say falafel?”
Asked what audiences should expect when they come out to watch the play, the girls’ all spoke to the joy and fun of the show.
“We have a lot of big musical numbers where everyone’s in it and a lot of choreographed dancing, and I think they should be ready to see everyone on stage singing, dancing,” said Zimmer.
While in July some youth their age are lounging by the lake or otherwise chilling after a long school year, the girls all said there is no way they would want to be anywhere but at the camp, even through a hot July. Paull has been a part of BOB for seven years, while Zimmer has been with it a decade. Dirks is in her second year.
“Especially once you become older, you connect really with all the people your age, and you become ... really close during these three weeks,” said Paull. “So you look forward to it, especially by the end of the year. You’re like, ‘I get to do it again.’ It’s just something that we always come back to in the summer. It’s almost like we have to do it. We’ll miss out on so much.”
The program has been around since 2005, meaning some former students graduated and return to join the teaching staff, Braun said.
In addition to Aladdin, each camp, the cast puts on a variety show for their families. This year, they are putting on jukebox musicals — think Mamma Mia!, Braun said.
“We always pick a theme and then the kids can choose musical numbers within that theme. That’s also a big part of the program because some of the students who might not be as featured in Aladdin, if they want some solo singing or something like that ... they get to do that in this show.”
Get tickets for Aladdin on eventbrite.