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Student creates, produces free Disney-inspired play

Jordan Stuart wants to demonstrate to the campus community how Disney’s classic stories, songs and messages are relevant for a wide range of people in various real-life situations.

In the Clarkston senior’s original play “When You Wish,” Stuart features 12 different Disney songs woven with original monologues she wrote herself. The musical, co-directed with DeWitt senior Kaitlyn Riel, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. in the Kiva in Moore Hall on Feb. 2-4.

“When You Wish” is open to public and free of charge.

Stuart said the monologues she wrote are personal narratives — scenes inspired by experiences and situations from her own life. All the musical numbers for the play were selected for a specific purpose, representing herself, a loved one or was originally sung by Stuart’s favorite princesses.

“I want people to walk away from this realizing just how big of an impact Disney narratives and music can have on people as a whole, not just children,” she said.

The songs are interpreted using different musical styles, including ensemble pieces, solo numbers and one song performed in a cappella.

All of our songs are coming from different perspectives, so it’s something everybody can relate to in some sort of way,” said Grand Blanc sophomore Lois Reeves, a performer in “When You Wish.”

Stuart said she has been working on this project for more than a year, and is producing the play for her honors capstone project.

“Most (honors students) do a research project or something like that (for their capstone),” she said. “But being a music-theater major, I knew I wanted to put on my own studio production.”

Because “When You Wish” will serve as Stuarts’ final capstone project, it is clear to those involved how important the project is to her. Grand Rapids senior Jenna Walker said she auditioned because Stuart’s passion for the show was obvious.

While creating “When You Wish,” Stuart said she didn’t want it to be a one-woman show, so she held vocal and dance auditions to recruit actors. Through auditions, she casted 14 students who are mostly, but not entirely, also music-theater students.

The performers described the rehearsal atmosphere as fun, happy and enjoyable. Grand Rapids senior Elijah Stinson said over the course of production, the cast feels they’ve become a family.

The cast, including Kalamazoo freshman Christian Heintzelman, seemed excited to perform for an audience.

“You just can’t help but smile throughout the show,” he said.