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Oxford Parks and Rec. bringing Aladdin to stage

by Trevor Keiser

July 10, 2013

Aladdin (played by Dylan McNeil) smiles as Princess Jasmine (played by Tori Spring) convinces her father not to arrest him.
Oxford Township Parks and Recreation Community Theatre wants to show you "a whole new world" with its take on the classic story and musical "Aladdin" starting July 19-21 at Oxford Middle School.

Director Peggy Miller-Zelinko calls it "an energetic comedy."

"It's Aladdin, but it's not the traditional Aladdin. It's an adaptable Aladdin. The songs are Disney songs, so people will be familiar with that," she said. "We have lots of things people will laugh at and lots of surprises."

The show includes a colorful cast of characters such as Yahoo and his pet snake who serve as narrators, the evil magician, El Kahsid, the beautiful princess Jasmine and of course none other than Aladdin himself. But what would the story be without a lamp and ring genies?

Dylan McNeil who plays Aladdin, said he found it easy to get into his character.

"He's a normal teenage boy," McNeil said. "That's what I am."

Unlike Tori Spring, who said she didn't relate to her character Princess Jasmine.

"She (Jasmine) is kind of a brat and obsessed with herself," Spring said. "But she is a fun character to play because she's different than anything I've done before."

McNeil also noted that he likes this version because Aladdin has parents. "I like that a lot more than in the Disney version," he said.

Amanda Morrison who play's Aladdin's mom said she likes her character because "she loud, obnoxious and rude."

"Which are things I'm not in real life," Morrison said. "So I get to be somebody else which is a fun thing to do."

Morrison also likes the play more than the Disney version. "It's funnier, crazier, louder and amazing," she said.

Austin Daniell, who plays Aladdin's dad, said he likes how he dies in the first scene.

"I was kind of drafted into this play because they needed more guys and since I am going out of town for three weeks I wanted a small part," he said. "So it works out good."

While there are many reasons to like the play, Daniell's reason is because it takes place in Mesopotamia. "That's a desert and a desert is my favorite ecosystem for some reason," he said. "I just like the dunes and sand."

El Kahsid, the evil magician is played by Steven Efanes, who also enjoyed getting into his character. "He is crafty, he is evil and I can really get into it," he said. "Anything that's bugging me in real life I can pour it into the character and go all out."

Actors and actresses range in age from 5-16 years old and come from all over, not just Oxford, noted Miller-Zelinko.

"This group is awesome," she said. "They really work hard together, get along together and most of them have been in plays before and they want to be here."

The set is constructed where the market place will take place on the floor, so the audience can participate in the play and both the jail and the palace will be on stage.

Miller-Zelinko works at Ridge Dale Community Theatre in Troy and has been dircting children's groups for 15 to 20 years. Helping her with the play is her daughter Music Director Rachel Miller-Zelinko and parent assistant Beth Belanger.

Performances will be at Oxford Middle School on July 19 at 7 p.m., July 20 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and July 21 at 2 p.m. Prices for children under 2 years-old are free, students/kids two years and older are $5, seniors 55 and older $6 and adults 17 years-old and up $8. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance. For tickets, contact Jesse Hayes at 248-628-1720.