I am a huge fan of Disney and in turn, anything Musical Theatre; I have been hoping to see Aladdin as soon as it opened on Broadway back in 2014, and in London earlier this year so have had huge expectations leading up to seeing it. Prior to this, I’ve seen the musical versions of ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘The Lion King’ and been a part of an amateur production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and loved them all.
I wasn’t let down when the overture started playing and I felt the oh so familiar shiver across my now goose-bump covered skin and watched as it led into the famous ‘Arabian Nights’. The choreography and costumes for the opening number were perfect and extremely glamorous, not only in this number but throughout the entire production. I was blown away by the beauty of the costumes – considering the majority of Agrabah is actually in poverty – but the Vaudeville-esque feel to the costumes ultimately made the production more Broadway.
I was extremely excited about seeing the original Broadway cast – especially Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) and Jonathen Freeman (Jafar), who actually played the voice of Jafar in the animated movie (my inner Disney fangirl was screaming). Both, did not disappoint and portrayed their characterisations perfectly; I was also pleasantly surprised by the character of Iago who made his and Jafar’s evil duo a comedic affair and reminded me of Gaston and Lefou immensely. Also, Aladdin’s added friends: Omar, Babkak, and Kassim were hilarious forcing me to adore them, their ‘theme song’ was one of my favourites in the show and I never wanted the harmonies to end.
Before seeing the show, a Cast Member in the Disney Store in Times Square told me how the show should be called “Genie” instead of “Aladdin” due to the Genie being the star of the show; I could not agree more if I tried. Mayor Attaway made the character wonderfully comedic and modern but also echoed the astonishing animation character so perfectly; his entrances and exits were directed so impeccably they literally gave the magical illusion of being a Genie. ‘Friend Like Me’ absolutely stole the show, I adored the never-ending costume changes, eternal tap-dancing and antithesis of genres in the music.
Although I enjoyed the show, it wasn’t until afterwards when I had some self-reflection I wondered whether it was actually as good as I thought. Personally I think I had built it up in my head too high before actually seeing it. The story was extremely hard to convey on stage due to the location jumps, but the set really was wonderful and slick having almost every piece on a train.
One question…how does the magic carpet fly? I’m entirely still lost for words, being an amateur actor in the theatre I can usually work out the logistics of every set piece but this was so amazing I couldn’t believe it. How was it done? I’m not sure I even want to know, Disney your magic amazes me for eternity.
Jasmine’s and Aladdin’s beautiful relationship was shown perfectly on stage, my favourite moment was when they first locked eyes in the marketplace and everything slowed down to the rhythm of true love; it was beautifully done and touched me directly in the heart.
Although the show was overall fabulous and very funny, it wasn’t one of my favourites that I’ve seen. I’m intrigued to also see it in the West End because apparently some of the jokes have been changed to suit English humour. I also now have the soundtrack on repeat, which means it must have been a winner in my mind. Disney I can’t wait to see what you bring to life next. If you loved the production of Aladdin I definitely suggest reading Liz Braswell‘s novel ‘A Whole New World’, I’ll link my review of it here.
“WHEN YOU CHOOSE TO LOSE YOURSELF, WHO KNOWS WHAT YOU MIGHT FIND?” – A MILLION MILES AWAY