Last Friday, July 21, 2017, 400 Lynchburg and Altavista YMCA campers visited the Academy Center of the Arts for a first-hand look at Encore Jr.’s 2017 production of Disney’s Aladdin, Jr.
Encore Jr., one of the Academy Center of the Art’s youth theatre programs, is made up of 40+ middle school students from the greater Lynchburg area. Each summer, following the high school-aged Encore camp, Encore Jr. puts together a full ‘junior-level’ show with just two weeks of rehearsal time. In addition to learning their lines and costuming, campers also take time for dance and vocal work, to create a full, stage-ready musical production.
On Friday, the performers mesmerized their young audience as they brought Disney’s Aladdin, Jr. to life on stage. The story, similar to the Disney classic, follows Aladdin as he vies for the attention of the beautiful princess, Jasmine. Using a genie’s magic power to become a prince in order to marry her, Aladdin runs into a bit of trouble when Jafar and his minion Iago figure out his plan. In the end, Aladdin is able to outsmart Jafar using wit, help from his magic carpet, and a little bit of magic to save the day!
According to the campers, their favorite parts of the show included “the marriage of Aladdin and Jasmine,” and “the end of the show”, which brings together all of the cast for an encore of ‘Friend Like Me’. When asked what they thought of the show in general, they told me they “loved it”, almost yelling from excitement. “I really loved the Magic Carpet,” said an Altavista camper. “He was really funny!”
After the performance, the entirety of the Disney’s Aladdin, Jr. cast lined the lobby to give out high-fives and greet the YMCA campers as they loaded their buses to head back to camp. This experience, especially for the younger campers, helped them connect the performance on stage to the real life people playing the parts. The looks on the campers, leaders, and YMCA staff faces were priceless, and nothing but compliments and cheers could be heard as they exited the lobby.
“Access to live theatre is vital for young students,” said Evan Smith, Director of Community Outreach. “With live theatre, there’s an opportunity for kids, with and without the means, to witness stories in real life, performed by real people right before their eyes. That doesn’t happen very often these days”. For this, and many other reasons, the Academy Center of the Arts continues to provide opportunities for students to experience live theatre, as well as opportunities to teach and inspire young minds through free workshops, performances, and classes.
Learn more about other community outreach initiatives by visiting emycenter.org/community-outreach.
Thank you to sponsors Innovative Wireless Technologies and Baird for providing this FREE opportunity to greater Lynchburg area students and YMCA campers.