Two-person Aladdin will light up the Summit County Library
Thanks to the 1992 Walt Disney animated film “Aladdin,” many young people and their families know the story of a boy who finds a magic lamp and befriends a genie.
What they may not be as familiar with the original story found in the classic literary collection, “Tales of the Arabian Nights.”
Instead of a lone street urchin, Aladdin is a boy who has a family and has to sell his wares to feed them. And instead of a villain named Jafar, the mean one in the original story is named Salabin, who uses Aladdin to find an antique magic lamp and the genie who lives inside.
Once Aladdin discovers the genie, he has to save his family by outsmarting Salabin.
This story will come to life when the Hampstead Stage Company performs “Aladdin” at the Summit County Library, Kimball Junction Branch on Monday, July 11, at 6 p.m.
The performance, which is appropriate for audience members aged 5 and older, will last 50 minutes and will not include an intermission, said Hampstead Stage Company Manager Anna Robbins.
“All of the books we select to adapt into plays are in the public domain,” Robbins explained during an interview with The Park Record. “They are classic stories that are taught in schools, and during the summer we pick stories that aren’t necessarily curriculum based.”
“Aladdin” falls into the latter category, but carries a positive message, according to Robbins.
“It’s about rising above your circumstances, and I think that is relevant to some of the things that are going on right now as far as teaching kids to do more than what they were born into,” she said.
The performance is dubbed a “two-person show,” and Robbins said that is what the Hampstead Stage Company is known for.
“Two actors play all the roles,” she said. “Emily Bates plays Aladdin and the little sidekick to the Salabin, the sorcerer and bad guy, and Zachary Parkhurst plays Salabin as well as Aladdin’s father and the genie.”
Although “Aladdin” is a two-person show, the performance is a professional production featuring seasoned actors and high-level production value.
“The actors bring a portable set, along with many costumes and props that can fit into a little minivan that travels all over the United States,” Robbins explained. “The set is comprised of hand-painted drops on two storybook flaps and the costumes change from character to character.”
The goal of this play, as with all the shows that Hampstead Stage Company presents, is to encourage kids to read and instill in them a love for the arts.
“I think introducing children to books is so important and this is a cool, hands-on way to do that,” Robbins said. “I don’t think it’s ever too early to introduce kids to literature and books.”
Each year, the company, which features 10 actors and two stand-by actors, performs more than 2,000 shows across the nation.
The company performs these plays at schools, libraries, community centers and summer camps, to name a few, Robbins said.
“We have shows based on Shakespeare plays and Greek mythology,” Robbins said.
In addition to “Aladdin,” the company’s repertoire includes “The Wizard of Oz,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “A Christmas Carol.”
“We’re also working on an adaptation of ‘Frankenstein’ for young adults in the fall,” she said. “We have about 20 to 30 shows that we rotate. It’s nice when these kids can see a show, especially at a library, and can walk to the shelves and find the book the play is based on and check it out and take it home to read it.”
“Aladdin” is one of the Hampton Stage Company’s first adaptations and premiered in the mid 1980s.
“We like to choose stories that are easy for two people to adapt and perform,” Robbins said. “We always want to select stories that people are familiar with.”
The big challenge is converting literary masterpieces into a 50-minute script.
“Once we find someone to write the show, they will draw up an outline of all the characters they want to include,” Robbins explained. “Then we decide what characters the two actors will play.”
When that step is complete, the company decides how to tell the story.
“We draw a lot on the original text for the script,” Robbins said.
To enhance each performance, the Hampton Stage Company puts together a study or activity guide that is found on its website, http://www.hamptonstage.org.
“Since our summer shows like ‘Aladdin’ aren’t really curriculum based, the guide for that play is more filled with fun activities and some learning games that go along with the production,” Robbins said.
Sometimes touring cross country gets a little tedious.
“I’ve toured twice with Hampstead, and there is a lot of wear and tear,” Robbins said. “The hard part is the stamina of traveling every day, city to city.”
But the company does it for the children and their families.
“When you perform and see the kids’ faces or when they tell you they really enjoyed the show and ask you when you’re coming back, it makes tiredness, the driving and set up worth it,” she said.
Although the Hampstead Stage Company, which was founded in 1983, has performed at other libraries in Utah, “Aladdin” will be the first production performed in Park City.
“The Summit County Library reached out to us, and we just happened to be scheduled in the area and are able to stop by and do a show,” Robbins said. “This is the first time we’ve been able to come to Park City, and it’s always exciting to come to new places.”
The Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch, 1885 Ute Blvd., will present Aladdin, a two-man production of the classic tale, on Monday, July 11, at 6 p.m. The production, performed by the Hampstead Stage Company, is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.thesummitcountylibrary.org.
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