By Julianne Cuba
It was a magical world!
Pint-sized actors from PS 52 transported the audience to the exotic, fictional city of Agrabah during their production of the Disney musical “Aladdin” on June 9. The future Broadway stars also helped design the set and the costumes, and made sure everything went on without a hitch from the moment the curtains went up — they all really shined on stage, said the show’s director.
“It was awesome, the kids were all really fantastic. They really built the production from the ground up,” said Naomi Avadanei, who worked with the school’s arts department to put on the show. “It’s all in the hands of the students, so it really becomes their production. They were fantastic, they truly brought the community together and blew everyone away.”
The Sheepshead Bay elementary school won the Disney Musicals in School contest last year, which offers support and assistance to schools creating musical theater programs. The three-year grant also helps budding thespian teachers by providing professional development through Disney teaching artists. Last year, the third-through-fifth graders did an excellent job in “The Lion King,” and this year wowed the audience with “Aladdin.” But directors are still deciding what show to do for the last year of the grant so as to go out with a bang, said Avadanei.
The grant program allows the school to expose its students to the arts through Disney shows and musicals, but it also gives them an opportunity to experience the world of theater right in their own city, said Avadanei.
“We want to try to take our kids to see the shows on Broadway, to expose them to as much theater as we can,” she said. “We are in New York City, there’s a world class theater several subway stops away.”
And the students had stars in their eyes when they got to see the Broadway production of “Aladdin” a few months ago — but it was just as memorable for the youngsters as it was for the teachers, said Avadanei.
“They loved it — it was magical,” she said. “For me as their theater teacher, it’s as engaging to watch them as it is to watch the show because for many of them it’s the first time they are ever seeing a show on Broadway.”
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