Alumni Theater Company brings authenticity to Disney's 'Descendants'

Alumni Theater Company, a company with a mission to create bold theatrical work that gives a fresh voice to the experience of young Black artists, is showing Disney's Descendants from July 28 through July 30 at the New Hazlett Theater. Bridgette Perdue, who’s soon to celebrate her first year as the company’s executive director, says she’s excited about the upcoming production.

“I’m really excited to hear how the audience responds to seeing kids engaged,” Perdue says. “I’m excited for kids, adults, and the community to come out and see this show and walk away with an impression, walk away feeling impacted.”

Young Black dancers perform in a rehearsal space
Rehearsal for Alumni Theater Company's "Descendants" // Photo courtesy of Alumni Theater

Disney's Descendants is about the children of Cruella De Vil, Maleficent, Jafar, and the Evil Queen, who are tasked by their villainous parents to steal the Fairy Godmother’s wand. At the same time, the teenagers are given a chance at redemption to attend a hero boarding school.

Alumni Theater is rethinking this classic Disney tale to fit its mission, featuring an all-Black cast of middle and high school students. Perdue says it's exciting to use this adaptation to spread more awareness about her company's vision, asking, "How does a Black theater company just kind of get the word out a little bit more to the general public about what we've been doing in the city and have been doing for the past 15 years?"

"Anybody can be a hero, anybody can be a villain."

Perdue says she knew the company would do well with the script and its cast, noting that the theater itself and the Black students in the cast are not the same as the majority of other companies and are “always going to stand out.”

“I think Alumni Theater Company does a really good job with teaching artists how to embrace who they authentically are and then bring that to the stage,” she adds. “So even when we did Descendants it was like, OK, we have this script, we didn’t create the script, but how do we authentically bring ourselves to the table? How do we still celebrate Black culture?”

A flyer for Alumni Theater Company's production of Disney's "Descendants" featuring photos of four young Black actors
Alumni Theater Company's flyer for Disney's "Descendants"

She says an important aspect of being a part of the Alumni Theater Company is that you get to continue to be your own true self.

“Sometimes our students are talking about how they may feel singled out in class or how our experience over-policing in our communities is or just like their own fears of growing up in a world where this is normal,” Perdue says. “Coming back to this show is that anybody can be a hero, anybody can be a villain. It’s like any time the Black person can play any role that isn’t stereotyped as a bully, that’s also addressing racism because it is affirming Blackness.”

Descendants will be performed at the New Hazlett Theater from Friday, July 28 through Sunday, July 30, with performances on July 28 at 7 p.m. and July 29 and 30 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit