TLC & LCP Take Weekend Trip to Agrabah

On Saturday, April 18th, The Learning Castle and La Cañada Preparatory’s performing arts department opened their spring production of Aladdin, Jr., before near capacity crowds at La Canada’s own Lanterman Auditorium.

Aladdin, Jr., an abridged version of the 2011 musical, Aladdin, follows the story of a poor young man, Aladdin, who finds a magic lamp and uses his wishes to marry the beautiful princess of Agrabah, Jasmine, while thwarting the conniving Jafar. With music written by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin, Aladdin made its Broadway debut in 2014 and was nominated for five Tony Awards.

This production featured the direction of TLC/LCP administrator, Justin Whalin, the musical direction of TLC music teacher, Kristin Maitlen, and the choreography of TLC/LCP dance teachers, Naomi Gomez and Dalia de la O. Produced by TLC/LCP director, Terry Villanueva, Aladdin, Jr., ran for two performances and incorporated over 400 students in two casts.  The annual musical was made possible by the financial support of TLC and LCP’s Annual Giving Campaign.

“I am so very proud of this group of gifted young performers,” said Whalin.  “They worked so hard to make sure this production was something very special.  There is no one prouder than I.”

Each performance utilizes different choruses and ensemble dancers, but the main cast remains the same for both shows.

Aladdin was an amazing experience for me,” said Jenson Fairchild, LCP eighth grader who played Princess Jasmine. “And the character of Jasmine will always hold a very special place in my heart.”

LCP eighth grader, Gabriella Garibyan, who played Aladdin’s comic sidekick Genie, commented about how much she learned. 

“I learned so much about acting through rehearsal and all the notes I received from Mr. Justin,” Garibyan stated.  “And I really loved Genie. Playing this role has made me a more confident and outgoing person!”

The other notable cast members were Aladdin played by Jack Elliot; Jafar played by Joe Spera; Iago played by Azeen Karim; Sultan played by Sayeed Shahidi; Abu played by Remy Turner; Razoul played by Oliver Gallup-Miles; Magic Carpet played by Nairi Keshishian; and the narrators, played by Brianna Anderson, Julianna Bayramian, Jordan Corbett, Daisy Cushenberry, Sabine Hovnanian, Barbara Carpenter, Ashley Peterson and Hannah Song.

Others who helped make the production possible were Mark Seibert of Lanterman Auditorium, facilities; Steve Miller and Katherine DeSilva, props and set pieces; Terry Villanueva, Joy Gillman, Natalie Landau and Margaret Sargsyan, costumes; Tina Hartounian of 4over Inc., printing; Greg Ross of Dakota River Creative Media, videography and photography; Suzan Spann of La Canada Junior Theater, additional set pieces; and Scott Albright, technical direction.

“As I said at the end of each performance, I believe our performing arts department rivals anyone’s in the area,” said TLC/LCP director and founder Terry Villanueva. “I am so proud of these talented students, our staff, the parent volunteers, everyone who worked so diligently to make this day another huge success for our schools.”

The TLC/LCP Parent Association, headed by association president, Angie Keshishian, and administrative liaison, Aggie Malolepszy, sponsored the annual Spring Festival, where theater patrons enjoyed delicious Middle Eastern fare, played carnival games, created arts and crafts, and generally enjoyed a beautiful Saturday afternoon in between performances.

“I am so grateful to the many dedicated parent volunteers who helped create such a memorable event for our children,” said Malolepszy. “We had a great turnout and everyone had a lot of fun.”