BRAVO Soars With Summer Productions

A flying apparatus allows actors in Aladdin, Jr. and Willy Wonka productions to hover in the air.

Aladdin is not Aladdin without his magic carpet.

Despite the difficulty of a number of flying scenes, the summer presentation by the BRAVO Performing Arts Academy of Aladdin, Jr. does not shy away from the performance. Last month, the performance group rigged a flying system with pulleys at to lift up actors from the ground.

“It’s really cool. I think it’s something that’s a very professional thing to be doing for a middle school presentation,” said Johnny Figel, a 20-year-old staff member at BRAVO over the summer while on break from Indiana University where he majors in public affairs and minors in theater.

Figel started out performing in the Grease presentation of BRAVO nine years ago as a student in Oak Park Elementary School District 97, and has been involved in the program since then. He recalls props in his first show included borrowed tables from the lunchroom. The program has come a long way with a bigger budget, he said.

The BRAVO program if the referendum did not pass in April.

Aladdin, Jr. is just one of three productions for BRAVO this summer. Aladdin, Jr. will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 14, 11 a.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday, all in the auditorium at 325 S. Kenilworth Ave.

Another BRAVO production, Little Shop of Horrors will debut 7:30 p.m. Friday, with another performance slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The cast already performed Willy Wonka, Kids last week, a performance with its own flying theatrics including the scene where the characters drink soda pop and start floating up towards the ceiling.

“Of all the theater camps I’ve been to, this is the most professional one,” said Quentin Sanders, an incoming sixth grader at who played "Grandpa Joe" in the Wonka show. He’s been acting since he was five. “It’s not really like another kids show. It’s more like an adult show with kids in it.”

Will Skubish, who played Charlie Bucket and will be a fifth grader at in the fall, said the audience got lots of laughs out of the Willy Wonka show.

“I think one of the greatest things about it is the how the kids fail,” he said. “There are these great scenes where the kids are eating too much chocolate, or falling in garbage.”

Students at the academy have also been gaining valuable advice from an experienced staff this summer.

“I’ve learned to always take a risk and don’t be afraid to be yourself,” said Sanders.

Tickets for Aladdin and Little Shop of Horrors are available for purchase online or by calling the BRAVO office at (708) 524-5621. Tickets cost $6 for students and seniors, and $8 for adults.

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