Arabian nights: Shearer’s ‘Aladdin Kids’ opens Friday

Published 8:23 am Thursday, March 1, 2018

Third-grader Jaime Bush, fully dressed and ready to go as the camel’s butt, was doing her homework Tuesday night in the Campbell Junior High Auditorium, waiting for the rehearsal to start.

More than 60 other Shearer Elementary School students were scattered among the seats. There were lions doing homework, peacocks coloring and several children lined up waiting for their makeup to be put on.

The “Aladdin Kids” musical will premiere at 7 p.m. Friday, and follows with weekend performances, Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. All shows are at the Campbell Junior High School auditorium.

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Collin Berner, a music teacher at Shearer and the director of Shearer Musical Theatre, said “Aladdin” is Shearer Musical Theatre’s fifth-anniversary show.

The children have been working on the show since October, practicing with vocal coaches, combat choreography specialists and others. Berner said he likes to bring in theatrical professionals to enhance the program.

“We’re committed to bringing professional musical theatre education to children,” Berner said.

The musical is student-centered. Students grades kindergarten through fourth-grade sing, dance and act, and do it live in full costume.

“This cast been a particularly great bunch,” Berner said. “They’ve taken some long rehearsals really, really well like no other group that we’ve had before.

“This cast has really impressed me with their commitment to the show, and commitment to each other.”

Berner said they have tried to make each year more challenging than the previous. Last year, students performed “101 Dalmations.”

“When we looked at the ‘Aladdin’ script, we thought this script would be, by far, the hardest script and music that we’ve ever attempted at Shearer Musical Theatre,” he said.

The play benefits the students in many ways, Berner said. He said ticket sales help provide a steady income to purchase instruments for the programs at Shearer. Another benefit is watching the kids grow and develop in their work ethic and leadership. Some students have put about 40 to 50 hours of work into the production, Berner said.

“It gives kids confidence in their own voice,” he said. “Not just what they say and what they think matters, but with kids this age, just literally having the confidence to speak.”

For some students, it’s practice for their future. Third-grader Carter Johnston, who plays Aladdin, said “Aladdin” is his seventh play.

“I’ve been acting since I was 5 and I want to do more plays throughout my living,” Johnston said. “I want to be an actor on Broadway.”

Third-grader Ella Gaines is playing the Lamp Vendor for the show, and as it is her first year, she said she is “nerve-excited” for the premiere tomorrow.

“I’m really nervous because what happens with me is when I see crowds, my acting stops,” Ella Gaines said. “So I’m praying and praying I get better at that.”

Fourth-grader Ella Durrence, who plays Genie, said she hopes the auditorium sells out.

“We have worked so hard,” she said. “We have just been doing this to make everybody happy, and seeing the faces out in the audience is just a delight, to see everybody smiling, clapping or crying.”

Tickets will be on sale at the door, $6 for adults and $4 for children age 12 and under. Tickets are available online at

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0015.

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