For the next two days, a local theater group will get the chance to perform on Rockford’s biggest stage. Christian Youth Theatre was going to perform “Aladdin Junior” at Hononegah’s Performing Arts Center, but a fire changed those plans.
“We’ve been working hard,” said Aladdin Jr. cast member Brayden Reese. “The news that we couldn’t perform at Hononegah was kind of scary.”
“When I first heard Hononegah had a fire, I was kind of sad because what if we had no play?,” said cast member Ava Ellis. “This was my first play I was going to be in.”
But community members got to work and after many calls, the decision was finalized. CYT would perform at the historic Coronado theatre.
“You’d think we’d go to a theatre of the same caliber,” said McKenna Anderson who plays Genie. “Then they said we were coming [to the Coronado].”
The nearly hundred cast members of Aladdin Jr. couldn’t believe the news.
“I was so excited!,” said cast member Kaitlyn Tibbetts. “Performing at the Coronado as high schoolers is a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity. We might not get this chance again.”
But it was a whole new world for the local youth theatre group at it’s new venue. Director Jack Hill says while the news was humbling, the pressure to perform well was turned up.
“They get good things in here,” said Hill. “[This] says we need to be at a level of quality and professional that I like to think we produce.”
Thursday, after hours of hair and make-up, Aladdin Jr. put on a show for an audience for the first time.
“I’m looking forward to taking over Agrabah!,” said Cameron Bottum who played the role of Jafar.
For Bottum, this production is extra special as it’s his last.
“Being able to go out at such an amazing venue is just incredible,” said Bottum. “I’m very thankful.”
Show organizers say the rare opportunity to perform at the downtown theatre wouldn’t have been possible without the help of many, something the young actors say it’s something they’ll never forget.
“Thank you!,” said Julia Dayton. “We’d be without a facility to perform this amazing show and it’s just been such a blessing.”
Aladdin Jr.’s official opening night kicks off Friday, click here for tickets.