Calling ladies and gents of all ages! Let yourself be whisked away into the fabled city of Agrabah as Disney Theatrical Productions, under the direction of Thomas Schumacher, present Aladdin—now a Broadway hit all over the world.
For those that remember the 1992 animated film of the same name, it is superbly gratifying to see the characters we know and love come alive on stage. Ever since the film’s successful release—topping the charts as the number one movie of that year globally—the affection of people everywhere continues for this Disney Classic.
After many years of creative development and research, two tryout productions, and many hours spent rewriting the songs and script, Aladdin was ready to go by 2013 with its first show in Toronto. All the effort and hard work put into this production has clearly paid off with sell out shows across Tokyo, Hamburg and London.
The journey continues here in Australia, blessing Crown Theatre and charming audiences in Perth.
The tale of Aladdin begins in Agrabah where we are introduced to the Arabian street urchin Aladdin (Ainsley Melham), who spends his days stealing from the marketplace with friends, Kassim (Adam-Jon Fiorentino), Babkak (Troy Sussman) and Omar (Adam Di Martino). Aladdin forever wishes that someday his life will change for the better, and aspires to live in the palace with all the jewels and wealth in the world.
Meanwhile, inside the palace gates is Princess Jasmine (Shubshri Kandiah), who refuses to marry any of the suitors her father, the Sultan (George Henare), picks out for her. Jasmine believes in love and wants to meet someone who will treat her as an equal and not be blinded by her immense riches.
Escaping the palace, it is by fate that she runs into the street-rat Aladdin, but, at once, they are both struck by one another’s beauty.
Originally, musician Alan Menken and lyricists Howard Ashman and Tim Rice had 14 songs written for the film—and only six of these were included in the final version. In the musical, all six of the hits and a few of the cut songs, like Proud of Your Boy and High Adventure are featured, along with songs written by Chad Beguelin for this adaptation specifically—which help to expand the story on stage.
The first musical number Arabian Nights really sets the scene for what the audience can expect (and more) for the entire show. A whirlwind of vibrant colours moves across the stage as the ensemble dance, sing and cartwheel around. There is a lot going on, but it all works together to really make the audience feel they are right in the centre of Agrabah.
This adaptation stays true to the original plot (minus Abu the monkey and tiger Rajah) and it wouldn’t be a successful version without the hilarious, flamboyant, one-of-a-kind Genie (Gareth Jacobs), who awes the crowd to a standing ovation with his musical number Friend Like Me inside the Cave of Wonders.
Jafar (Adam Murphy), the evil Grand Vizier of the Sultan, and his sidekick parrot Iago (Aljin Abella), seek out Aladdin and order him to retrieve the magic lamp (in which the genie is trapped) from the hidden cave.
The scenic design by Bob Crowley is nothing like I have ever seen. It is truly impressive; in particualr, the Cave of Wonders set left me speechless. Aladdin and Genie dance around the gold encrusted cave, and it’s something you must see for yourself, because describing it would be doing it an injustice.
Of course, Genie grants Aladdin three wishes, and he uses his first to become Prince Ali Ababwa in order to win over Princess Jasmine’s heart.
There are over 300 costumes in the production, designed by Gregg Barnes, and they are something else altogether. Each costume is unique and absolutely stunning as the millions of sequins, 500,000-some Swarovski crystals, and glitter dusted actors sparkle in the lights. It is one considerably great glitter-fest.
Among the iconic songs are the talented cast members that perform them. There is not a single weak link in the cast as all 34 of them put 100 per cent and then some into their role. Ainsley Melham performs to a tee, acting out the mischievous and adventurous Aladdin. He looks the part and is certainly handsome in his orange vest and fez, wooing the Arabian girls as they sing “What I would give to be that vest”.
Perth-born musical theatre graduate Shubshri Kandiah plays the beautiful, strong and sassy Princess and captures the audience’s attention in her azure blue costume, and again in another scene in which she wears a skirt that is embellished with four thousand hand sewn beads. Her duet with Ainsley, A Whole New World is stupefying, and the entire theatre watched in silence.In the film, Genie is voiced by Robin Williams, so Gareth Jacobs had big shoes to fill. Indeed, those shoes were filled. What a show he put on! Engaging with the audience, the Genie’s captivating presence was a definite highlight of the evening. Complete with the wicked Jafar and humorous Iago—the cherry on top.
I don’t think you need any more convincing that the Aladdin musical is a must see for anyone who is a lover of musical theatre or a die-hard Disney fan. Phenomenal power-house singing, the magic flying carpet scene, illusions, and just damn good talent really sums up this masterpiece.
So, please do yourself a favour and get down to Crown Theatre.
Aladdin is exactly what you wished for.
Aladdinis playing at Crown Theatre until October.