It wasn’t just the magic of Disney that made the third annual spring musical a hit; it was the smiling faces of the children from The Hope Institute portraying those characters. On April 16 and 17, students were able to unleash their inner actors and actresses in “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.”

Karen Herzel, the music director, has overseen all the musicals while at Hope, which included “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr.” and “The Little Mermaid Jr.” For Herzel, she has seen a lot of improvement each year and the musicals keep getting better and better.

“The students exhibit greater levels of self-confidence and cooperation.  Their stage presence and performance skills (vocal projection, movement, understanding of playing to the audience, etc.) are better,” said Herzel.  “They are more independent, and rely less on their shadow coaches while performing.”

The spring musical takes a lot of preparation in advance so it can keep the momentum each year.

The students were cast in September of 2014 and rehearsals began in November of 2014. Cameron and Chasity were cast as Aladdin and Jasmine, the two leads.

With the help of shadow coaches students were able to have individual help learning their lines on and off stage. Shadow coaches were on stage during each performance to aid students if they needed extra help remembering their character’s part.

Herzel expressed her gratitude for the coaches and students when she spoke about the musical.

“My two favorite things about directing the musicals is being able to work with all of the students and shadow coaches in these cooperative projects, and then to see the students shine in their performances,” said Herzel.

And shine they did. The students dazzled audience members in their hour long performance as they received a standing ovation both days.

“We are extremely proud of everything our students accomplished. The talent they bring to the table always continues to impress,” said Clint Paul, Hope President and CEO.

Herzel already has the next musical picked out for 2016 but said that announcement will come at Hope’s Celebrity Chef event on September 12, 2015.

The Hope Institute for Children and Families
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