aladdin

The Sultan, Aladdin, Jafar and Iago, played by, from left, Christopher Johnson, Gabriel Bostick, Justin Thompson and Charis Gaston, star in New Venture Theatre's Disney's 'Aladdin Jr.'

Welcome to Agrabah, a diverse city full of nobles, misfits and even a few villains.

Among them is kid named Aladdin, who spends his days stealing food for his own survival. That doesn't make Aladdin bad, but his wanderings will land him in trouble when New Venture Theatre opens Disney's "Aladdin Jr." on June 21 in LSU's Claude L. Shaver Theatre.

That's when Aladdin, played by Gabriel Bostick, will meet the Genie from a lamp, played by Zion Johnson, who will grant him three wishes, then throw in a magic carpet for good measure.

Aladdin promises to use his last wish to set the Genie free. But will he?

A lot will happen between Aladdin's initial promise and the moment of truth, including lots of music and dancing by a cast of 35 who range in age from 7 to 18.

"And the story is totally different from the movie Disney released this summer," director Laketa Caston said. "There are no characters like the animated characters in the movie, and there's so much more interaction in live theater, because you see the actors' expressions, and the songs are performed right in front of you."

The show marks Caston's directorial debut of a major musical. She was the costume director for New Venture Theatre's 2018 summer children's musical, "The Wiz," and she directed a cast of 15 youngsters in the company's small musical "Jambo!" last winter.

"This show is big, but it's been interesting," Caston said. "We have Dwight Bell as our choreographer, and once he's done with the dances, I just come in and direct and block the acting."

Caston chose two actors to play Aladdin's love interest, Princess Jasmine.

"I've never done that before, but we had two good actors, and I wanted to use both," she said. "So, Kaylee Gomez and Colby J'nae Griffin will be playing Jasmine on different days."

The adventure begins when the scheming Jafar, played by Justin Thompson, saves Aladdin from a death sentence ordered by the Sultan, played by Christopher Johnson. Jafar and his assistant, Iago, played by Charis Gaston, plot to push the Sultan out of power using the power of the Genie. They send Aladdin into a cave to retrieve the Genie's lamp.

And that's when the Genie is set free and wishes are granted. 


Disney's 'Aladdin Jr.'

New Venture Theatre's summer children's musical

WHEN: 7 p.m. June 21, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 22, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 23.

WHERE: Claude L. Shaver Theatre in the LSU Music and Dramatic Arts Building, Dalrymple Drive

TICKETS/INFO: $20; $15 kids and students with valid ID, and with advance tickets for groups of 15 or more. (225) 588-7576 or newventuretheatre.org


Follow Robin Miller on Twitter, @rmillerbr.