Cast named for Penguin Project's 'Aladdin Jr.'

"Disney’s Aladdin Jr." is the next Penguin Project production. Performance dates are Sept. 25 through 28. Pictured are cast members Sam Naftztger (left) and Benjamin Turk.
"Disney’s Aladdin Jr." is the next Penguin Project production. Performance dates are Sept. 25 through 28. Pictured are cast members Sam Naftztger (left) and Benjamin Turk.

The theater will be filled with magic this fall when Children’s Community Theatre’s Penguin Project presents “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.”

Penguin Project is a theater program that allows children and young adults to step into the spotlight. Every roll in the show features an artist (an individual with a disability) and a peer mentor with whom they have worked side-by side for months preparing for the show. This is the fifth year of the program in DeKalb County.

The show will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 through 27 and 2 p.m. Sept. 28 at DeKalb High School. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $6 for children and are available through cast members and are available online at

This year’s show is funded in part through a grant from the CarMax Foundation.

“We are incredibly excited about this year’s show,” Joe King, CCT Penguin Project coordinator, said in a news release. “Once again we have an incredible cast of artists and mentors who have been hard at work all summer, and the results are amazing.”

The show is based on the hit Disney film, “Aladdin,” which tells the story of a poor orphan in the city of Agrabah, who relies on his wits to survive. When a magic lamp falls into the hands of Aladdin (played by Jacob Ihm, 16, of DeKalb, who is mentored by Isabella Johnson) his life takes a dramatic and hilarious turn. The Genie (Adam Wirth, 21, of Waterman, mentored by Jake Busby) transforms Aladdin into a prince to help him win the heart of the beautiful Princess Jasmine (Ashley Baker, 15, of Sycamore, mentored by Julianna Klecka), but he has to get past the evil Jafar (Jacob Morton, 21, of Genoa, mentored by Merri Bork) and his feathered sidekick, Iago, (Nicholas Reggelbrugge, 13, of Sugar Grove, mentored by Isaac Ward) who want the lamp for themselves.

The show features many of the songs that made the movie a hit with viewers of all ages, including “Friend Like Me,” “Prince Ali” and “A Whole New World.”

The cast for the show also includes Jacob Collingbourne (mentored by Drew Brady) as the Jasmine’s father, the Sultan; Jonah Malecki (Kyle Hess) as the Captain of the Guards, Razoul; a trio of guards played by Jonnie Schauer (Matt Callahan), Scott Heinsohn (Allegra Domel); Garett Schuck (Jessica Stanberry); Aladdin’s Magic Carpet played by Jennifer Busby (Megan Petrie); Aladdin’s monkey, Abu, played by Erin Steele (Cassidy Garland). There also is a trio of princes played by Benjamin Turk (Sam Naftzger), Justin Parker (Heidi Smith) and Michael Castrisis (Cole Cada).

The show also features 10 talented narrators: Drew Garland (Danny Earl); Shaelyn West (Caitlyn Cheatham); Kenny Perry (Sarah Lehan); Sarah Holda (Grace Domel); Abby Zacaria (Laura Lahey); Amanda Beckman (Sarah Horton); Cierra Bend (Kyra Hayes); Nicole Pikula (Sam Hepker); Kayla Puentes (Kaitlyn Jacobsen) and Haley Tyrrell (Taylor Vanlanduyt).

Bringing the town of Agrabah to life is the ensemble, featuring Grace Turk (Noelle Simone), Sarah Roller (Marie Perry), Emily Watson (Raina Sands), Hannah Dupre (Jessica Marx), Robert Roller (Elijah Bourge), Kaitlyn Umbach (Brianna Cada), Matthew Slade (Grant Vanlanduyt), Jacob Linneman (Lori Perry) and Joshua Bemish-Austin.

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