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'Aladdin' coming to Huntley Park District's resident theater in June

It’s Showtime Theatre of Huntley, the new resident theater company of the Huntley Park District, has announced the selection of Jeff Cook to serve as artistic director for the company’s first scripted production, “Aladdin,” coming in June.

“I am very excited to be on the production team of It’s Showtime Theatre’s summer production,” Cook said. “The folks behind the theater are passionate about bringing quality entertainment to the Huntley community, and to be a part of that is an honor.”

“Aladdin” will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from June 14 to 23 at the Cosman Theater located in the Huntley Park District, 12015 Mill St., Huntley. This original version of “Aladdin” was extended three times during its run with Upstage/Downstage Theater, making it the highest grossing production in the history of the former Skokie-based theater group.

This original version of “Aladdin” does not feature the score of the Disney animated film, but it has all the characters that people know derived from the same “One Thousand and One Nights” source material.

It’s not the movie; it’s written specifically for the stage, bringing the characters to life just as effectively as in an animated film.

“Directing It’s Showtime’s ‘Aladdin’ will be a labor of love but also a challenge,” Cook said. “The story is so well-known to people. My goal is to create a fresh, magical experience for audiences that will have them leaving the theater with a smile on their faces.”

“We are very pleased to have Jeff Cook on board to direct ‘Aladdin,’ ” said Rikki Lee Travolta, founding member of It’s Showtime Theatre’s advisory committee. “Jeff is a remarkable director who always delivers stellar entertainment.”

Cook’s directing experience includes hit productions of “Young Frankenstein” and “Legally Blonde” at the Woodstock Opera House and “Once Upon a Mattress” at Crystal Lake’s Right-Center-Left Productions. Cook also wrote and directed every episode of the first season of the popular web-series “Upstaged.” Audiences also can enjoy Cook’s brand of humor on the radio with “Radio Parody Playhouse” on 101.5 FM, in which voice actors bring to life parodies of classics from the Golden Age of Radio.

“I’m a character-first director,” Cook said. “That means that every character has to have their own unique look and voice, and be able to connect on different levels with audience members. Everything evolves from that.”

It’s Showtime Theatre of Huntley produced a well-received Broadway Revue in August 2018, and looks forward to bringing its first scripted production to the stage in “Aladdin.”

Auditions will take place April 1 and 2.

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