- Cullman, Alabama

March 14, 2013

Final curtain: Cullman students prepping Aladdin performance before renovation

By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — As a longtime drama student, Cullman High School junior Jay Terry has had his fair share of roles — big and small — in the antiquated high school auditorium.

But he’ll say good bye to the great hall this weekend with the school’s production of Disney’s Aladdin, the last major performance before a massive renovation makes the facility look like a “whole new world” next year.

“I’ve been doing this my whole high school career,” Terry said. “I really got into it in seventh grade after going to a Poe expo and they did a collection of plays. It really inspired me.”

If construction stays on schedule for the renovation project, Terry may get a chance to show off his skills in the new auditorium before taking his talents off to college.

“We’re all really excited about the updates and it should be great,” he said.

Putting the finishing touches on one of three magic carpets earlier this week, drama director Dillon Lee said he and his students are ecstatic to see the decades-old facility receive a facelift.

“There will be acoustic ceilings, new chairs and automated controls,” he said. “It’s going to be a major change.”

The auditorium project is just one component of a massive, $14.5 million renovation at the high school campus set to begin soon.

The first phase of demolition will remove the administration building, guidance building, media center and J Building. In their place a new two-story, 68,000-square-foot academic building will be built. The academic building will include two floors of classrooms, a media center, cafe, commons, administration space and a multipurpose facility. The bottom level classrooms will also be reinforced to meet storm shelter standards, meaning they can be used as shelter in the event of a tornado or powerful storm.

The J Building will be replaced with a two-story, 22,000-square-foot fine arts building. A new auditorium lobby will be built and the main auditorium renovation will also be done at this time. The A and B buildings will remain in use until phase I construction is complete.

Phase II will raze the A and B classroom buildings for a new, 100-space parking lot. The cafeteria and gymnasium will also receive some

As for the performance itself, Lee said Aladdin should be one of the most exciting stage shows ever attempted by the department. From sword fights to singing, Lee said all fans should find something to like.

“None of our shows are ever what you expect it to be, so of course we’re taking it and putting our CHS spin on it,” Lee said. “We’ll have the classic songs, digital effects, stage effects and a lot of action. It’s not just Aladdin, but our own, unique take on Aladdin.”

With several talented students graduating this year, Lee said he decided to take an unorthodox approach to casting this show. The Thursday and Friday night performances will have a different actress portraying Jasmine, and a different actor playing the genie, to give more students a shot at a starring role.

“We made the decision after call backs, because we wanted to give as many students as possible a chance to show off their talents,” Lee said.

The CHS rendition of Disney’s Aladdin will be at 7 p.m. tonight and Friday. Cost is $10/adult; $5/students and children. Tickets available at the door.

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220