BWW Review: DISNEY'S ALADDIN Shines and Shimmers at Her Majesty's Theatre
On opening night of Disney's Aladdin in Melbourne, the audience were standing more than they were sitting! The multi award nominated stage musical by Alan Menken (Music), Howard Ashman (co-lyricist), Tim Rice (co-lyricist), and Chad Beguelin (Book and co-lyricist); based on the Award Winning Disney film written by Ron Clements, John Musker, Ted Elliott, and Terry Rossio; is a triumph of sights and sounds.
With songs and a story we all know and love from the 1992 animated film, the musical follows titular character Aladdin in a quest for survival, promptly interrupted by love. In this role is Ainsley Melham (Hi5, Xanadu) who is a sheer joy to watch. The combination of his soaring voice and inspired dance ability, coupled with his honest acting make him a complete triple threat and a perfect Aladdin. With comedy equally as strong as melancholy, Melham gives a performance worth seeing time and time again.
Opposite Melham is Hiba Elchikhe as Jasmine, the fiercly independent and adventurous princess. Hailing from the UK, Elchikhe delivers strong and lovely vocals in These Palace Walls and A Million Miles Away but isn't given much to work with in the book in terms of dimension or depth of character.
Giving a performance that left the audience exhausted in camaraderie and on their feet in a mid show standing ovation, Michael James Scott as the Genie is a powerhouse. With energy and charisma oozing out of every pore, his performance of Robin William's iconic character gives it a new jazzy and sassy personality. With impressive voice, physical presence, dancing, and comic timing, Michael James Scott steals the show with a fabulous entrance followed by showstopper Friend Like Me.
Replacing Aladdin's animated sidekick Abu are three pals Babkak (Troy Sussman), Omar (Robert Tripolino), and Kassim (Adam-Jon Fiorentino). These three cronies are Aladdin's urchin buddies and they all shine in their high energy market routine and in High Adventure. Fiorentino is commanding as Kassim, with wonderful comic timing, a splendid voice, and excellent moves. Tripolino and Sussman provide excellent comedy throughout the show.
On the other side of the story line are Jafar and Iago, played by Adam Murphy and Aljin Abella respectively. Adam Murphy is perfectly conniving as Jafar with a smooth and booming voice and an excellently menacing stage presence. Aljin Abella is hysterical as Iago, with a physical performance just as strong as the comic lines he delivers.
Some of the most standout work in the show is from Gregg Barnes' exquisite and opulent costume design which uses every Swarosvski crystal in existence, Bob Crowley's scenic design which is a feast for the eyes, and most magically of course, Jim Steinmeyer's illusion design. Steinmeyer's work on the awe-inspring magic carpet and flashing on stage costume changes and prop tricks has to be seen to be believed. Some real magic happens in this show! But you'll need to see it for yourself...
Casey Nicholaw has created a visual and aural feast for audiences globally as Aladdin mixes Disney, Broadway, and Middle Eastern exoticism. With dance routines and stage direction to rival the biggest original broadway musicals, Aladdin is a colourful and electric experience to delight audiences of all ages.
On now at Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne!
Tickets via Ticketek
Photo credits: Deen Van Meer