By Kaitlin Wright Since filming the last episode of Nickelodeon’s “The Thundermans” this past summer, the sitcom’s leading lady, Kira Kosarin, 20, said she has been going to a lot of auditions and working on new music for an album she hopes to release in the near future.
Kosarin has also been rehearsing to play the part of Princess Jasmine in “Aladdin and His Winter Wish” at the Laguna Playhouse on Dec. 7-31. She will star alongside fellow T.V. actor Jason Earles of Disney’s “Hannah Montana” and “Kickin’ It” and several Broadway performers including Jason Gotay of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” who will play Aladdin. Barry Pearl of “Grease” is also part of the cast in the role of Sultan.Kosarin said she is excited for a change of scenery (she’ll be living near the beach during the run of the show) and for a change of pace.“I’m coming off a five year run (of “The Thundermans”) so I feel like there is a lot of possibility for me right now,” said Kosarin. “I wanted to be on Nickelodeon and I was, so I reached that goal and now I’m just trying to learn as much as I can and see what comes to me.”
“Aladdin and His Winter Wish” is an updated, holiday version of the classic Disney movie told in the British panto style and produced by the Lythgoe family.
In England, children are introduced to the world of theater through this type of entertainment, where a traditional fairy tale is updated with singing, dancing, comedy, exaggerated versions of familiar characters and plenty of audience interaction.
Getting the audience involved – especially the kids in the audience – is part of what makes the show so enjoyable, Kosarin said.
“It’s perfect for kids. It’s silly, it’s fun and there are other kids in the show too,” she said.
The cast of “Aladdin and His Winter Wish” includes local Orange County talent in the ensemble roles including brothers Jarod and Jonah Smith, who attend the Orange County School of the Arts.The Smiths, who have performed in Lythgoe Famile Pantos before, are looking forward to working with Kosarin and the other seasoned professionals.
“It really is a privilege to work with big name people like Kira Kosarin and Jason Gotay,” said Jarod Smith, 14. “It’s cool to see them as the character we know them as and then see them as this new character.”
Jonah Smith, 12, who watches “The Thundermans” on TV, added, “It is nice to see (Kosarin) as a superhero and then see her as Jasmine. We get to learn more about her as a performer.”
Kosarin said she looks at the younger performers like Jarod and Jonah and remembers when she first started acting.
“I did theater as a kid. I mean, my mom was on Broadway, so I guess it was inevitable that I would get involved in some way,” said Kosarin. “I think the theater in any capacity has this inherent magic.”
Which she said is perfect for the holiday season.
“Aladdin and His Winter Wish” follows the story of Aladdin and his adventures in Agrabah. He meets a genie (played by Broadway’s Jay Donnell) and makes three wishes, all while the cast serenades the audience with modern pop songs such as Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” and “Jai Ho” from the movie “Slumdog Millionaire.”
“The first song I sing is ‘Call Me Maybe,'” said Kosarin. “Jasmine is telling her friends about this boy she meets on the street and all of a sudden we flip into girl group mode with the dance moves and everything.”
This is the third year The Laguna Playhouse has presented a Lythgoe Family Panto and many Orange County families are making it an annual holiday tradition.
Jarod Smith can see why.
Said Jarod: “I believe theater during the holidays brings people together. It is a nice, cheery time of year and panto provides everything you need to celebrate.”