Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You Ain't Ever Seen a Show Like This!

As a child, Aladdin was one of my favourite Disney films. So, it was a real treat to see the film version adapted into a musical by Disney Theatrical Productions. The brilliant score is by award-winning composer, Alan Menken of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast fame. 

The curtain, or more accurately, carpet rises and we are transported into the fabled and fantastical city of Agrabah, where we meet a trio of Aladdin's friends, who serve as the narrators of the story. They begin by singing the crowd-pleasing song, Arabian Nights filled with notes of Middle Eastern influence. Soon thereafter, we meet Aladdin and he executes Casey Nicholaw's choreography with pizzazz and ease, jumping buildings and dodging henchmen, all the while singing the number, One Jump Ahead, beautifully. 

Adam Jacobs is perfectly cast in the title role. Through displaying infectious enthusiasm, raw talent, and charisma, he proves that he is able to carry the show with finesse. However, his masterful vocal ability is unmatched by his co-star, Courtney Reed who portrays Jasmine. What is lacking in the show is in-depth character development, as all of the characters are one-dimensional, stock characters.
There are not enough superlatives to describe James Monroe Iglehart, who magically appears as the Genie on stage. Iglehart commands the stage with his powerful presence and his indefatigable performance stole the show. Some kinks still need to be ironed out, as it is distracting to see a stage manager address an issue as the show is in progress, while the cast delivers a show-stopping number, Friend Like Me. The number pays homage to West Side Story and A Chorus Line, the Broadway shows of yesteryear both in music and choreography, respectively. Nicholaw's choreography is a veritable feast for the eyes, complete with belly and tap-dancing sequences. 

Children will absolutely adore the show and will be in awe of the theatricality of Jasmine and Aladdin's magic carpet ride. Scenic designer, Bob Crowley brings life to the busy and bustling ancient city of Agrabah with visually stunning sets. The cohesive cast of thousands will delight the audience with their phenomenal dancing and unstoppable energy. 

--Alison Silveira

Starring Adam Jacobs, James Monroe Iglehart, Jonathan Freeman, and Courtney Reed
Directed and Choreographed by Casey Nicholaw
Music by Alan Menken 
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice 
Book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin
Aladdin plays at the Ed Mirvish Theatre until January 5, 2014.

Photos by: Cylla Von Tiedemann

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