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Willmar, Minn., Middle School musical 'Mulan Jr.' opens tonight (video)

The Willmar Middle School production of the musical "Mulan Jr." opens tonight at the Willmar High School theater. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)2 / 3
Erica Ellingson performs in the title role of the Willmar Middle School production of the musical "Mulan Jr." The stage production opens tonight at the Willmar High School theater. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)3 / 3

The Willmar Middle School presents the musical "Disney's Mulan Jr." at 7 p.m. tonight through Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday at Willmar High School theater.

The cast and crew of nearly 80 Willmar Middle School seventh- and eighth-graders auditioned in December and have been "working hard for the past two months," according to directors.

Fans of the Disney's "Mulan" will recognize many familiar characters and songs from the popular 1998 film.

The Fa Family Ancestors (played by Skyler Steffen, Grace Bolin, Luis Cervantes, Rhiley Schmidt and Joe Schaefbauer) take the audience back to ancient China where they watch over their great-great-granddaughter, Mulan (Erica Ellingson), as she attempts to seal her future as a proper Chinese wife with the Matchmaker (Chloe Halvorson).

As Mulan is declared unfit to marry, the Emporor's adviser, Chi Fu (Brady Newcomer) delivers news that one son from every family must enlist to defend China from the evil Shan-Yu (Jack Erickson) and his army of Huns.

Young men from the village (Logan Blumhoefer, Tristan Testa, Jacob Odom, Andrew DeJong and Preston Iverson) honorably accept the call to serve. Having no son to fight for the family honor, Fa Zhou (Ian Thompson) volunteers to serve in spite of an old injury that will surely lead to his demise. Against her father's command, Mulan steals his helmet and sword, dresses as a boy, and runs away from home to fight in his place.

The Ancestors have no choice but to send the misfit dragon, Mushu (Cameron Swanson) to stop Mulan, who will be killed if she is discovered. Upon entering the Wu Zhong camp, Mulan introduces herself as "Ping" and sets to work convincing captain Li Shang (Adam Herman) and her newfound comrades Ling, Yao and Qian-Po (Max Trochlil, Jarod Swoboda and Drew Corneil) that she is a soldier worthy of defending the Emperor (Jacob Rubio) and all of China.

As Shan-Yu and his sidekicks, Magyar (Logan Kortgard) and Subar-Tu (Trenton Mann), continue their quest to conquer China, Captain Shang and the soldiers learn that to overcome the Huns, they must rely not only on their brute strength but also on their quick thinking.

After her secret is revealed, Mulan must convince everyone that while they may see "just a girl" on the outside, the strength of her character is her true reflection. So, with Mulan's help and a little assistance from a cheongsam saleswoman (Emily Carlson), the Imperial soldiers devise a humorous plan to rescue the Emperor from Shan-Yu's grasp, save China, and restore honor to the Fa Family name.

Other cast members include Anisa Abdulahi, Muna Abdulahi, Alex Alamo, Savannah Anez, Emma Asche, Anna Backes, Erica Boeyink, Mary Brunson, David Cairns, Bri Carlson, Mary Carlson, Michelle Carlson, Ashley Chavez, Micaela Cruz, Patricia Cruz,

Jessica Eischen, Alexis Engelkes, Madison Fauskee, Ingrid Figenskau, Gabby Fischer, Hannah Gallagher, Madison Garnhardt, Jennifer Gratz, Mara Hallberg, Anne Haugen, Hannah Hjelle, Kristin Hormann, Sydney Huntley,

Jenna Jagow, Kali Jensen, Alina Johnson, Matt Klundt, Courtney Lankenau, Jubilee Love, Kayla McBride, Miranda Ornelas, Mackenzie Ouren, Hannah Pallansch, Sydney Peterson, Samantha Pina,

Taryn Reinke, Amberly Rieke, MaQuelah Schueler, Ellie Shuldes, Ellie Skaalerud, Hailey Sletten, Emma Stevens, Samantha U'Ren, Erin Vance, Bergen Vollan, Autumn Wieling, Madie Wulff and Amanda Zuidema.

The play is directed by Tim Cayler and Melissa Wallestad. Ben Lanning is the sound technician.

Ticket info

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets are available at Willmar Community Ed and Rec office in Jefferson Learning Center through today. No phone reservations accepted; after today any remaining tickets will be available one hour before each performance at the high school.