Young actors from and two other local schools are hoping to whisk audiences off to Agribah this weekend as they present Aladdin Jr. on stage at the Harris Theatre of George Mason University.
The students are with a children’s theater company, Stage Presence. The director and owner of Stage Presence is Stacey Jones, a Vienna resident with decades of experience in children’s theater. Jones also teaches after-school theater classes at Sunrise Valley and at Flint Hill Elementary School in Vienna. Besides Sunrise Valley, students at Flint Hill and at Wolftrap Elementary in Vienna are also starring in the production.
The students, mostly in fifth or sixth grade, have been practicing for months.
“These kids are so disciplined,” Jones says. “They are amazing to work with. They all have so much else going on, but they have put so much into this show.”
Previously, Jones put on plays on the stage at Flint Hill, where her two oldest children attended elementary school. She had been doing so since 2003 but came to the point where she needed a larger venue.
“I could not accept everyone because the stage was too small,” she says.
This year, though, was a breakthrough. Jones recently earned a second bachelor’s degree, this one in theater education from George Mason University. Using her school connections, she obtained access to the Harris Theatre, part of GMU’s Center for the Arts.
“We are thrilled,” she says, adding that GMU students are working the sound and lights for the show. Choreography is by Jacky Spalding of Oakton, a professional dancer with whom Jones has worked for several years.
Jones says Aladdin Jr. is a good choice for elementary students because they are familiar with the story and because the music is lively. Most important, it calls for a large and frequently-present ensemble.
“The No. 1 thing for me is how much time the ensemble is on stage,” she says. “I want all the kids to have a chance to shine, not just those who are playing leads. It’s their play. They own it.”
Aladdin Jr. opens at 7:30 p.m. today and runs again at 3 p.m. Sunday. The show is at the Harris Theatre of George Mason University, Fairfax. The university is at the intersections of Route 123 and Braddock Road, and the theater is accessible from Mason Pond Drive once on campus. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and GMU students (with ID) and $5 for children 14 and younger. They are available at the door or at www.stagepresencenow.com