aladdin and his winter wish

This year’s holiday panto Aladdin and His Winter Wish, which runs at Tennessee Performing Arts Center Dec. 12-22, intentionally blends big names with up-and-coming local talent.

Aladdin and His Winter Wish will feature recording artist Kira Kosarin (who starred as Phoebe in Nickelodeon’s The Thundermans) as the Princess, Damon J. Gillespie (Broadway’s Newsies, Aladdin, NBC’s Rise) as Aladdin, Richard Karn (Al Borland in the ’90s sitcom Home Improvement) as the hypnotism-prone Sultan, Bruce Vilanch (Emmy Award-winning TV comedy writer and actor of Hairspray, Hollywood Squares) as Widow Twanky, Josh Adamson (ABC Family’s First Landing) as Abanazar, Jonathan Meza (The Familiar of Zero, Nickelodeon’s The Jumpitz) as Wishee Washee and just-announced star Mykal Kilgore (Broadway’s Songs for a New World, NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live) as the Genie.

The production held open auditions for local Nashville area dancers on Sept. 21 at CoolSprings Galleria. Judges Chase Benz (choreographer), Ernie Nolan (director), Becky Lythgoe (producer) and Christi Dortch (producer and Executive Vice President of Programming & Sales at TPAC) selected local children and adults for ensemble dance roles.

Three Williamson County dancers have been cast:

  • Reese Benton of Brentwood
  • Christopher Burns of Brentwood
  • Mollie ter Kuile of Franklin

Other locals in the ensemble include Chelsea Hough, Daniel Thomas and Albanus Thierry, as well as youth dancers Kinsey Burchett, Dayton Winker, Leila Winker, Claire Green, Indya Sowell, Kiara Cabriana, Nikolas Ware, Chloe Wiest and Valeria Romero.

For brother and sister dance duo Drayton and Leila Winker (12 and 10-years-old), the audition process at CoolSprings Galleria was “tiring and a little nerve-racking, but tons of fun.”

Like many of these talented local kids, Drayton has been dancing and performing for most of his life.

“I’ve been dancing for about seven years,” he says. “My sister and I have gone to a lot of competitions, so we think we’re ready and we’re so excited!”

But when it comes to what musical theater is all about — making that human connection — young Drayton Winker sums it up best.

“I just love performing because it makes people feel what I feel.”

Known for their creativity and involvement in television hits American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, the Lythgoe family prides themselves in bringing the British panto tradition across the pond, offering affordable and interactive theater to families across America.

Bring your family to experience the holiday magic of Aladdin and His Winter Wish, coming to TPAC’s Polk Theater Dec. 12-22.

Tickets are on sale now at TPAC.org or calling the box office at 615-782-4040.

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