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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

Pierrepont School Presents, "Aladdin, Jr."

By Jennifer Ersalesi

The third and last musical of the school year will be performed at Pierrepont School this weekend on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. After many months of rehearsal, the Directors, cast, and crew are excited for audiences to see the show this weekend. This is Rutherford interviewed the two Directors, Ms. Courtney McManus and Mr. Matthew Vaccaro, and the Music Director, Aaliyah Jordan about this production.

TIR: This year, the students at Pierrepont School will be performing, “Aladdin, Jr.". Many people are familiar with the movie “Aladdin", what can you tell us about this junior musical adaptation of the movie?

Courtney McManus: Aladdin Jr. is a shortened version of the Broadway production.  It follows the premise of the original movie, with a few wonderful additions.  Aladdin and Jasmine each have a group of friends who help them make major decisions.  They also each have a song that is not in the original movie.  My personal favorite is Aladdin’s solo, “Proud of Your Boy”.

TIR: How many students are in this production?  How many are involved in the, “behind the scenes”?  

CM: This season, you will see 47 Pierrepont students singing and dancing their hearts out on stage. We also have a dedicated student stage manager and a few students in tech positions.

TIR: How long have students been preparing for this show? 

Matt Vaccaro: We do a year-long production, mainly because we have so many students and the entire production team works in every building. These kids have had scripts since October and have worked with Ms. Jordan on their music all year. We come back together as an entire team in March and push the choreography and stage direction until the end of May for the show. 

TIR: What has been most rewarding about working on this production with the students? 

MV: For me, it has to be the abundance of talent at Pierrepont School. Watching these kids sing, dance, and act at such a high level is one of the most amazing things to witness. I love seeing this group of kids harmonize as they dance in fun and show-stopping ways. As directors, getting to hear from the kids the amount of fun they have had or the way they have been practicing for their roles is always such a pleasure. Knowing that we have created a family for all students to feel at home is something we have always pushed to achieve. Theater is a powerful form of entertainment, but it's even more powerful when you see 9 to 12-year-olds doing it at such a high level. 

TIR: Is there a particular scene and/or song that you are excited for audiences to see?

Aaliyah Jordan: I am excited for the audiences to hear all of the songs! "Friend Like Me" and "Prince Ali" are show-stopping ensemble-heavy numbers where many students are featured and get to showcase their vocal talent as well as the fun and exciting choreography they have learned. I look forward to watching and listening to these numbers myself during rehearsals! 

TIR: Which songs and dances have the actors been enjoying the most?

AJ: Although the cast shows enthusiasm and excitement over every musical number, they seem to really love the choreography and vocals for "High Adventure". This song features the actors doing choreography with swords, different emotions, and beautiful harmonies they have worked so hard to master. The cast truly gets so excited when we ask them to rehearse this number! 

TIR: What are you most excited for audiences to see?

Mia DiLorenzo

Mia DiLorenzo: I am most excited for the audience to see our "Friend Like Me" performance because it's an iconic and really fun song! It has a lot of powerful energy and is very entertaining to watch!

Max Gavrilov: I’m most excited for the audiences to see how much effort we are putting into this production and that we are trying our best. I would also like the audiences to see how the different scenes flow along with the story and how much the stage crew has helped the cast and helped this entire show come together. The last thing I am most excited for the audiences to see is how this show is a little different than the original. Some scenes, characters, and lines were removed and/ or added. I find this cool and exciting and I’m sure others do too. In general, though, I wish for the audiences to enjoy the show and have a nice time watching it.

TIR: What have you enjoyed most about working on this production of “Aladdin, Jr.”?  

MD: My favorite part of this experience was the wonderful cast and crew! Everyone worked so hard and put so much effort and dedication into bringing this show to life. Working with all these incredible people has been wonderful, and I will truly miss everyone!

Max Gavrilov

MG: I enjoyed everything while working on the production. I loved working with the rest of the cast, stage crew, directors, and choreographers. I enjoyed working with the cast because we had a lot of fun together and because everyone was very supportive and nice to each other. Working with the stage crew was good because without them our show wouldn’t be good at all. Instead, it would be people talking on a stage with regular clothes and people singing without music. The director helped me learn my lines and where to go on stage and the choreographer showed me what to do in the song and taught me how to sing the song correctly. I also enjoyed being a part of and watching the show come together. At first, the rehearsals were short compared to now and we made small steps, and after a couple of months, we were rehearsing the whole thing and getting ready for the actual performance. In all, everything was very fun and I enjoyed every part of the process as we worked on this production.

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