I remember watching the movie of Disney’s Aladdin when it came out and being blown away. After timeless films like Snow White and Bambi, Aladdin was part of a new wave of Disney movies that were snappy, action-oriented, and slap-your-lap funny. The film topped the box office and Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle performing A Whole New World won the Oscar for best song.
Robin Williams’ hyperactive and hilarious turn as the Genie of the magic lamp, undoubtedly influenced future characters like Eddie Murphy’s Donkey in Shrek. I was curious to see how the stage musical would translate Williams’ iconic role.
Aladdin takes its inspiration from old school Hollywood ‘road pictures’ e.g. Bing Crosby and Bob Hope rom-coms, as well as jazz age giants like Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong. The stage version feels more Broadway than any other show I’ve seen since Chicago. They give it tons of ‘razzle dazzle’, with show-stopping musical numbers that will have you tapping and clapping along. The original award-winning score by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Alan Menken is padded out with some lively new tunes, including the emotional ‘Proud of Your Boy’.
The production is bursting with colour and spectacle, lavish set design and gorgeous costumes.
It’s hard to imagine a better match for heroine Jasmine than ex-Sugababes’ Jade Ewen, whose large almond eyes and sparky persona are pure Disney princess and whose midriff should have its own understudy.
Dean John-Wilson as Aladdin has a warm and boyish appeal and while their chemistry never quite sizzles, their love scenes are genuinely sweet. I felt that old ding-ding on the heartstrings when they flew across the stage singing A Whole New World. Forget horse-drawn carriages or rickshaw rides… give me moonlight on a magic carpet flight!
The story of Aladdin is total wish fulfilment: a street hoodlum, in love with a princess, finds his fortunes transformed by a big dude in a magic lantern. Sure, Aladdin’s the hero but it’s really all about the Genie, baby. And when Trevor Dion Nicholas appears in a puff of smoke, things take a turn for the epic.
Broadway star Trevor conjures up a magician who’s too cool for school, too camp for lamps. It’s as if his Genie were the real life embodiment of the vision Robin Williams had in mind. But there are no ghosts looking over his shoulder. Trevor puts his own stamp on the Genie, creating an all-singing, all-dancing, all-joking dynamo that won him several standing ovations.
Aladdin has a strong panto vibe, highlighted by the ‘extra’-ness of the genie, deliciously over-the-top baddie (Don Gallagher) and his goon (Peter Howe), bumbling best friends, bad jokes and an impossibly neat ending. But it’s all part of the fun. Aladdin will sweep you and your little treasures off your feet. We absolutely loved it.
Ezra’s Review (age 10)
‘A great, great play and what makes it even more great is that they didn’t just copy everything from the movie, they tweaked some bits, but all of the songs were the same and it was all very enjoyable to watch. Some songs they added were very, very funny like the one where Aladdin’s best friends are singing about their adventure and dancing all the way through.
The magic carpet was pretty amazing and one of my favourite scenes was when Aladdin was going to get the lamp from the cave — it was really funny how Jafar said ‘touch nothing but the lamp’ and then Aladdin shrugs his shoulders, immediately touches the gold and gets locked inside! I also found it very funny when Aladdin tricked the genie into giving him a free wish. I have to say the genie was my favourite character, he was very funny. Because I couldn’t really remember the film, we watched it the next day and that’s how I remembered that the genie was just as funny in the movie!’
Aladdin the Musical is playing at Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton Street London W1D 4HS (Charing Cross rail/tube, Leicester Square/Tottenham Court Rd tube). Director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon), music by Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast), lyrics from Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast), Tim Rice (The Lion King) and Chad Beguelin (Elf), book by Chad Beguelin. Recommended for ages 6+, under 3s not admitted. 2.30pm (Thu & Sat), 7.30pm (Mon-Sat); from £27.25 (now booking until 2017)