Crittenden brings 'Aladdin Jr.' to its new stage


Fifty students at Crittenden Middle School will be performing Disney's Aladdin Jr. musical from Thursday, Nov. 15, through Sunday, Nov. 18.

The production caps off more than two months of preparations as part of the middle school's popular musical theater program, with students practicing and rehearsing nearly every day, including weekends. It will also make use of the school's new auditorium, which is an upgrade from the cafeteria stage previously used.

The theater program has grown quite a bit over the last six to seven years, and the quality of the performance has only improved as more children, parents and hired staff get involved, according to Leanne Rzepiela, Crittenden's music teacher and the producer of the musical this year. She said parents and community members who show up can expect a high quality production similar to the top-notch performances at Children's Musical Theater San Jose.

"We're very lucky to live in a city that has so many resources and so many people who are interested in and very supportive of the arts," Rzepiela said.

The Mountain View Whisman School District has poured more than $30 million into building and upgrading facilities at Crittenden over the last five years, including a new track and field, classroom modernization and the new auditorium. Starting last year, the performances at the school have benefited from built-in lighting and a high-tech sound system.

In past years, Rzepiela said the school relied on the auditorium at the north end of the cafeteria -- a facility known as a "cafetorium" -- which wasn't ideal for a whole host of reasons. Lighting and speakers had to be brought in, the stage was about a fourth of the size it is today and there was no backstage. Students and staff not actively on stage had to stand outside.

Many students participating in the play, including the leading role, have never acted or sung on stage before, making the production a big deal for them, Rzepiela said. The students have been working overtime in recent weeks to improve their skills and prepare for their big day.

The performances will run every night from Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m., and again on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the school office, 1701 Rock St., or at the door and are $10 for adults, $8 for kids.

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