Thursday, July 25, 2024

Kids in the Meaford Hall Ready to Bring Aladdin’s Lamp to the Stage

T.S. Giilck

The Kids in the Meaford Hall are leaving a light in the window this week. A magic light, that is.

The theatre group based out of Meaford Hall is presenting Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp this week. The play, written by Michele L. Vacca, hews close to the origins of the famous tale from the Arabian Nights, according to its stars, Franz and Paul Greenfield.

The Greenfields have been cast as Aladdin and The Magician, the lead roles in the production.

“It’s a big role, bigger than anything I’ve done before,” said the 13-year-old Paul, following in his family’s on-stage footsteps with the company. “It’s fun, and very interactive.

“I like doing different stuff,” he added.

He’s in his fifth season with the Kids, and eighth production.

“It is fun, but very challenging at the same time,” added Franz, a familiar face with the program. “There’s just so much more to do. It’s like a mystery fantasy, and there’s a lot of strife. It’s close to the roots of the story.”

Franz, a veteran performer at the age of 16, said he always enjoys “playing evil characters.” He’s been performing since he was 11. “You can go a little nuts with them,” he said with a sly wink. “I’m not like a crazy person or anything, and it is fun to indulge it.”

David Baker, the producer of the play, was heaving a slight sigh of relief as he watched the 16-member cast go through a rehearsal November 27 at the Hall.

The Kids have alternated between a Christmas story and a folk or fairy tale for their seasonal production, he explained. This year the non-Christmas tale was up for grabs, with some other obvious choices such as Robin Hood and Snow White having been done.

The Aladdin story was one of the choices in a mix of three or four selections, Baker said, and it won out in the end after a consultation among the program’s management team.

“This made it to the short list and it seemed topical to go to another place,” he said. “This year we were donated all of these costumes by a Shakespearean summer theatre in Clarksburg that closed this year after 18 years. It was just a gold mine of costumes, and we made the selection around that too.”

Costuming is always one of the more labour-intensive parts of presenting a play, Baker said, so that saved a tremendous amount of effort.

“We are right on schedule,” he added. “A week and a half ago I looked at a rehearsal and thought there was no way (we would be ready), but they made it through and it was much better than I thought.”

Baker said it’s also a “technically complex” show with various effects, but that’s coming along as well.

The schedule includes performances on December 3 and 4. As is normally the case, students from around the area will take in the shows.

Baker explained that the Kids in the Meaford Hall program was the brainchild of Gunter Neumann in 2009. This year marks the seventh annual play.

“Each year the Kids in the Meaford Hall has stayed true to its original goals but we have refined them,” Baker said. “We began by inviting all the primary school kids from St. Vincent & Euphrasia Elementary School and Meaford Community School and then we expanded our audience.”

“We now invite Sydenham Community School and Beaver Valley Community School and a lot of the regional home-schooled kids. This has enabled us invite a thousand kids to a free show at Meaford Hall each year.”

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