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Broadway's 'Jasmine' has local ties
by Cynthia Petersen · March 31st, 2014

What little girl hasn't dreamed of becoming a princess?

And though most girls grow up and forget about the dream, there are some who only work harder to see that dream materialize.

Courtney Reed is someone who has made that dream come true.

Courtney, the daughter of Porter Reed, a 1965 graduate of Marion High School, plays Princess Jasmine in the Disney's Broadway production of "Aladdin." She is also the granddaughter of William Reed, who was inducted into the Marion High School Athletic Hall of Fame late last year,

Courtney and her co-star, Adam Jacobs, who plays Aladdin, performed the same production in Seattle and Toronto before traveling to New York early this year to prepare for the Broadway production.

The official opening date for "Aladdin" was March 20 at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City.

Porter moved to Elgin, Ill. in the '70s, where he and his wife, Tipawan, a native of Thailand, raised their three children. He said his oldest daughter was involved in theater first, and Courtney, who was just 4 at the time, wanted to become involved, too.

"As a little girl, Courtney loved to go along with her older sister to her theater classes. I think that's when she fell in love with the theater," he said.

Courtney agreed that her passion began when she was little, when she would pretend to dress up in Victorian gowns and put on plays for her family.

"I'd speak with a British accent with any friend who was willing to play along," she said. "I even made a hoop skirt with a bunch of wire hangers to put on a dress my mom bought me from the thrift store. We would put on shows in our basement and make all of the parents watch."

Her acting career began at the age of 7, when she attended the Children's Theatre of Elgin. She went on to study drama at the Larkin Visual and Performing Arts Academy. She then attended the Theatre Conservatory at Roosevelt's Chicago College of Performing Arts, where she graduated from the Roosevelt University's Musical Theatre program.

"I don't remember ever wanting to do anything other than acting," she said. "I grew up doing children's theatre, went straight to performing arts high schools then theatre conservatory for college. I don't remember wanting to try anything else."

Porter said his daughter's success has not been easy. "There's a lot more to it than most people realize," he said. "Courtney has worked very hard to get to where she is. She takes care of herself and doesn't stay out all night. The rehearsals require a lot of stamina. They are very long and she doesn't get home until very late."

Courtney has appeared in other productions, including televisions shows, "CSI: NY," "Law and Order," and "White Collar."

However, Courtney said it wouldn't have been possible without the support of her parents.

"They actually encouraged me to travel away from home to experience other cultures," she said. "Later my mom did admit she was nervous that acting was an 'unstable career,' but she never let on. I am very lucky and grateful for such supportive parents. I still look up to them and I'm amazed by the people they are."

Courtney said that what she loves most about her career is that she can make a living doing what she loves.

"That was my goal. What a dream! I never dread going to work. I still can't even believe I get paid to do what I do. I don't remember watching anything but classic Disney films (of course, Aladdin was my favorite). But never in my wildest dreams did I dream I'd be Jasmine on Broadway... I'm the luckiest girl in the world."
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