Disney’s Aladdin Jr. opens Thursday at DHS

Aladdin, played by Brian Tripp, reacts to Genie, played by Tyler Ward, in Monday’s dress rehearsal at DHS. Aladdin Jr. opens Thursday at 7 p.m. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

Prepare to be transported to the land of Agrabah this weekend as the Tiger Arts Guild (TAG) at Demopolis High School presents Disney’s Aladdin Jr.

“The beautiful colors and costumes, the uplifting music, we really just hope that patrons are able to come in and be transported to the world of Agrabah,” said director Jody Tartt. “The show is visually stunning, and ultimately my goal is for it to be an escape for those who come to see it.”

Tartt, who has led the theater program at DHS for 16 years, was quick to point out those who have helped make the show a success.

“My goal has always been to involve not only the entire arts department, but also other classes from campus, and this has been the perfect show for that,” Tartt said. “My theater classes of course play a role, but for this show we are also fortunate to have Madaline Jacobs directing the musical portion, and Charles Jones and his industrial maintenance students help us in assembling the set.”

From left, Genie (Tyler Ward), Aladdin (Brian Tripp), and Jasmine (Allison Polk). (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

Tartt also was able to once again partner with visual artist Garland Farwell, marking the 10th year the duo has collaborated on various projects

“Garland is always so gracious to give his time to this program and this school, and once again I have been blown away by his art and the intricacies in this set,” said Tartt.

For the set design, Tartt’s Theater Design class was tasked with researching Arabian architecture and art. A collage was then created and Farwell used that research, coupled with his real world experiences in the Middle East, to design the Aladdin set.

“The really cool part about working with Garland is that he brings his ideas, his designs, and our students tap into that. He directs them, gives them tips of the trade, and so what you see at the end of the day is a collaborative project between our students and Garland,” Tartt said. “Every time we collaborate on a project, his work far exceeds my expectations.”

More than 35 DHS students make up the cast and crew of Aladdin Jr., and for Tartt, that’s a good thing.

“I want to get as many students and teachers as possible involved,” she said.

Aladdin Jr. opens Thursday at the DHS Theater and runs through Saturday at 7 p.m. nightly. There will also be a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.

Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for students.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens tonight at DHS

Fairy King Oberon, left, played by Tristan Mullen, challenges Fairy Queen Titania, second from right, played by Caitlin Robertson, as her fairies Marlana Mitchell, Catherine Akins, Taneisha Robertson and Audrey Akins look on in amazement. (WAW | Michael Clements)

Fairy King Oberon, left, played by Tristan Mullen, challenges Fairy Queen Titania, second from right, played by Caitlin Robertson, as her fairies Marlana Mitchell, Catherine Akins, Taneisha Robertson and Audrey Akins look on in amazement. (WAW | Michael Clements)

The Tiger Arts Guild at Demopolis High School is presenting Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream this week at the DHS Auditorium.

The show, directed by Fine Arts Department Chair Jody Tartt, will feature more than 25 high school students involved directly with the production, with another 30 or so involved behind the scenes.

“These shows are so much fun because they’re a group effort,” said Tartt. “While you will see students on the stage during the show, there are more that are behind the scenes, designing sets and lighting, props, so much goes on that the audience never sees.”

Tartt, who has been at DHS for 14 years, last directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream about 10 years ago when she opted to set the show during the Harlem Renaissance.

“At the time, our students were studying the Harlem Renaissance in their English classes, so it fit well,” said Tartt. “That was close to 10 years ago, and well before we had this great facility we have today, so while I don’t like to recycle shows, I felt like this was a good time to bring this one back.”

Titania, the fairy queen played by Caitlin Robertson, sleeps in her bower attended by fairies Audrey Akins, Marlana Mitchell, Taneisha Robertson, Mary White, and Terrance Allen. (WAW | Michael Clements)

Titania, the fairy queen played by Caitlin Robertson, sleeps in her bower attended by fairies Audrey Akins, Marlana Mitchell, Taneisha Robertson, Mary White, and Terrance Allen. (WAW | Michael Clements)

This time around, Tartt chose to set the play in the 1970s.

“It’s kind of funny,” she said, laughing as reflected back to the decision a few months back. “I was listening to Pandora Radio, the Stevie Wonder Station, and just thought it’d be cool to set the show in that time period.”

The plot is fitting for the 70s—two adolescents going against the status quo desiring marriage in a society based on arranged marriages.

“It seemed fitting, and also like a time period that our kids could relate to,” said Tartt.

Tartt, who has been credited with starting the drama and theater program when she came to Demopolis in 2001, has continually developed the program into what it is today. When asked about the successes of the program, she is the last to take credit.

“The community of Demopolis has been so supportive. To be a relatively small town, Demopolis appreciates the arts. You look around and we have the Canebrake Players, the Two Rivers Arts Council, a phenomenal new facility for the arts here at the high school, it’s the community that allows things like this to happen through their support,” said Tartt.

From left Puck, the knavish sprite, played by Tyler Ward, enters fairy land dancing with fairies Marlana Mitchell and Catherine Akins. (WAW | Michael Clements)

From left Puck, the knavish sprite, played by Tyler Ward, enters fairy land dancing with fairies Marlana Mitchell and Catherine Akins. (WAW | Michael Clements)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens Thursday at 7 p.m. at the DHS Auditorium and runs Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Admission for adults is $5. There will be no Friday performance as Demopolis travels to Vigor High School for AHSAA football playoffs. 1970s attire is encouraged for theater-goers.

“This show is so much fun, and we want to encourage everyone to wear 70s attire when they come,” said Tartt.

 

Tiger Arts Guild ready to tell Stories in the Dark

(Photo submitted by Jody Tartt) The unique puppets, made with the assistance of guest artist Garland Farwell, will be a prominent feature of Stories in the Dark.

(Photo submitted by Jody Tartt)
The unique puppets, made with the assistance of guest artist Garland Farwell, will be a prominent feature of Stories in the Dark.

Demopolis High School’s Tiger Arts Guild will roll out its annual Halloween production this weekend when it performs Stories in the Dark.

“The play includes stories from a wide range of authors such as The Brothers Grimm, and folklorists Ruby Pickens Tartt and Alvin Schwartz to poems by Shel Silverstein and Heinrich Hoffmann,” Demopolis High drama instructor Jody Tartt said. “All of the stories have a spooky or humorous theme as children’s stories can sometimes be a bit on the macabre side.”

The production will be executed in a series of short stories that will each range from two to five minutes in length.

As has become customary of Tiger Arts Guild productions, the show will feature the work of a guest artist. In this instance, the guild has turned to Garland Farwell of BlackBeltMurals.com.

“He has had work displayed in the Atlanta Puppet Museum and has worked with Heather Henson, Jim Henson’s daughter,” Tartt said. “I’ve always wanted to work with him on puppets because I doubt few students here have ever seen puppets quite like his. Garland and I had several meetings and decided an original project was the way to go and a Fall show seemed to lend itself to spooky stories. We shared ideas with one another about particular children’s stories and surveyed my students and picked the ones we liked best.”

The puppets may well be the most unique feature of the production as Tartt expects them to be all but scene-stealers when the production opens.

“We have three that are over 10 feet tall, one large body puppet and another puppet on wheels that is around eight feet tall, a snake puppet about 15 feet long, much like a Chinese dragon puppet, and over 20 life size ghost puppets on rods,” Tartt said. “It has been an enormous amount of work creating and building puppets with the theatre students, but the end result is very impressive. We have two stories told through the art of shadow puppetry and Derrick Robertson has worked with us to create a wonderful shadow puppet box, since lighting is tricky when working with that medium, so we have a wide variety in the show. Everything in our production has been built and created by Theatre II Design, Theatre II Acting, and some Intro to Theatre students. I have a very talented group of design students and am proud of their hard work and contribution of ideas and creativity to this project.”

The production will feature a strong cross-section of the student body with varied interests and talents, something the Tiger Arts Guild perennially attempts to achieve in its performances.

“We have a few seniors, several band members and cheerleaders and a dancer, so our cast is well rounded and there are a great number of newcomers,: Tartt said. “Therefore, I felt this show would work well with the range of experience we have in the cast. I tried to utilize all of their abilities. We have our own pit band that uses their instruments to create original sound effects and music and a dancer on point shoes in one story. It is just wonderful to see the array of abilities our students develop in other areas of the fine arts and how theatre becomes a synthesis of those art forms.”

The show opens Friday at 7 p.m. at the Demopolis High School Performing Arts Center. Admission is $5 each. The show will resume Saturday at 7 p.m. and close Sunday at 2 p.m.

The cast features:

Sydney Pettus

Reid Claire Stein

Meredith Hill

Mary Odum Luke

Ke’Chyria Wheeler

Allison Polk

Catherine Akins

Summer Earle

Jackie Figueroa

Porsha Thomas

Stormie Gay

Ashley Minor

Kyla Smith

Andy Tarpley

Garrett Miller

Mike Closson

Jed Jones

Tyler Courtney

Alex Boxmeyer

Brian Tripp

Christopher Hoven

Tristan Mullen

Hunter Lewis

Tyler Ward

Sam Valez

Terrance Allen

CREW: Taylor Cooper,Gregory Harvey, Joseph Wilson, Kevin Krepps, Kathleen Saliba