BWW Review: ALADDIN DUAL LANGUAGE EDITION Brings the Audience to a Whole New World at Durango High School
Aladdin, performed by Durango High School under direction from the theatre arts department head Tobias Torres, was shown this last weekend. I have been wondering about this particular production since it is the dual language version, how that would be accomplished in a similar time frame as a single language show. I rearranged my schedule so that I could make it on closing night since it was only a one week production.
Many people know the story of Aladdin made famous from the Disney production. A street rat named Aladdin has stolen a piece of bread and gets put in prison with the number 24601. Sorry, wrong story. He wants nothing more than to get out of the streets and live in the palace because he believes that nothing bad ever happens to those who live there. Jasmine is the princess and she wants nothing more to get out of the palace life thinking that everyone else in the city is free. They find each other and by the end of the play they realize that they just need to make sure they are themselves. That is when they are truly happy.
The costumes were very familiar for the main characters. I think that was a smart choice especially with the dual languages, then the young children will know who each character is if they have seen the movie. The rest of the costumes really helped to set the location.
The dual language became apparent after the Sultan entered the scene. There was Spanish spoken before but it wasn't really clear why. It almost seemed to be a translation of what was just said, but it wasn't quite. I have taken many Spanish classes but that is academic and not speaking/conversational Spanish. Still I caught enough to know it wasn't a direct translation.
What had happened is when Jafar had possession of the lamp one of his wishes was that the Sultan, or the royals would not be able to talk with the commoners. So that created the language of the royals which was Spanish. There were some parts where you could tell where the Spanish speakers in the audience were because of the jokes were told in Spanish. That was entertaining as well.
I am a technical theatre teacher so I have to say a few things about the tech before I talk about the acting. They seemed to have a few minor issues with the sound, but it did not detract from the performance. The sets were well conceived in that they were functional as well as set the mood and locations. One of my favorite effects was when they were riding on the magic carpet ride they had the foggers on, the star curtain was lit and glittering, and they had lasers shooting out from behind them. The lasers were not always lit as the fog was swirling so it helped set that 'magical' feel of the carpet ride.
The singers, from Jasmine (Alexis Dright) ,to Aladdin (Kaige Caswell), to Genie (Mishack Washington), to even Jafar (Nestor Castellianos) to the chorus all had lovely voices. It would be hard to pick out a bad voice if you tried. All the cast members looked like they were having fun performing for the audience and that helped the audience enjoy the performance even more.
All the actors portrayed the characters in a similar fashion as to the Disney animation but with their own personal twist, enough to make it their own.
I do have to give a special shout out though. And a part of it goes to the animation, and part to how the part itself was written. But to have a character who does not have lines, and yet you love the character is an art. Especially since you could see her face. She could have easily let the movements do the work, but she gave 110%, Magic Carpet (Savannah Malone) you never stole the scene but you stole many hearts.
Jafar and the parrot, Iago (Dariana Rodriguez) were as evil as you would hope. I think those evil parts are most evil when played by the sweetest people, so they must be VERY sweet. Jasmine with her tiger, Rajah (Alondra Lopez) had that feel of sisters about their relationship. Which is what we would hope from the Disney show. And who can forget Aladdin and Apu (Joel Boyd). I feel for those actors who have to work on their hands and knees. They did a great job!
The message from this production that I took out was twofold (plus one). First, always keep your promises as Aladdin kept his to Genie when he set him free. Second, always be yourself. You will not be happy if you try to change and be someone you are not. And the last one, always have fun! There is so much more enjoyment all the way around when everyone has fun! I will definitely put a Durango production on my schedule when it comes up again.