Review Roundup: National Tour of ALADDIN Launches; What Did the Critics Think?

The National Tour of Aladdin recently launched at Proctor's in Schenectady, NY.

By: Oct. 26, 2022
Review Roundup: National Tour of ALADDIN Launches; What Did the Critics Think?

The National Tour of Aladdin recently launched at Proctor's in Schenectady, NY.

Aladdin, the hit musical based on the Academy Award®-winning animated film, opened on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre to critical acclaim on March 20, 2014 and quickly established itself as one of the biggest new blockbusters in recent years, breaking 14 New Amsterdam Theatre house records. Worldwide it has welcomed more than 14 million people, and can be seen currently on Broadway, in Tokyo, the Netherlands, Mexico City and Stuttgart.

Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, the show features music by Tony Award and eight-time Oscar® winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Sister Act), lyrics by two-time Oscar winner Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), three-time Tony Award and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice (Evita, Aida) and six-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), with a book by Beguelin, and is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon).

Find out what the critics think below!

Proctor's Theatre - Schenectady, NY

J. Peter Bergman, The Berkshire Edge: Add into the mixture, that human yeast which makes the whole show rise into the perfect confection, Marcus M. Martin could easily steal any show he appears in, but his spectacularly talented Genie threatens to do so. Instead he is one of the chief ingredients in what comes across as the perfect wedding cake, a present to this great bride and groom. He is funny, graceful, a good singer and actor, and he moves into the picture and stays there where he obviously belongs. Martin is the perfect man for the job. I can almost guarantee you will fall under his spell for the entire two house and 30 minutes you are in the theater.

Bill Kellert, Nippertown: Young and old alike, this production offers something for everyone. Children will be mesmerized by the sets, swirling colors, and the songs which have become part of their musical lexicon. The audience at Saturday's performance was filled with many under the age of 14, who all sat with rapt attention throughout the nearly two-and-a-half-hour production. For the adults, we were treated to the addition of many jokes and gags that will certainly pass over the heads of many of the younger audience members.

Paul Lamar, The Daily Gazette: I don't think I will see "Aladdin" again after my maiden voyage into the Disney franchise, but I found much to enjoy about the production from a purely theatrical point of view while not investing much thought in the story (book by Chad Beguelin) or the music (by Alan Menken). (I will observe, however, that the values kids can take away from the dramatic events - friendship, self-discovery, honoring a promise, freedom, imagination, cooperation - are ones even curmudgeons still need to be reminded of.)

Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts - Hartford, CT

Hartford Courant

Clowes Hall - Indianapolis, IN

The Marriage Matinee, BroadwayWorld: You can't be drawn into Aladdin without a top-tier Genie, and Marcus M. Martin did not disappoint. He grabbed the audience from his first syllable to his last, and it made the whole experience that much more engaging. It's hard to pinpoint the magical recipe that creates a performance that is comedically accomplished without being too over-the-top, but he churned out one delicious rendition of Genie. What personally drew me in most was his vocal resonance. It helped to create that all-powerful presence that Genie requires. He also owned every inch of the stage. There was never a sense that he was following some predetermined blocking but that he moved, talked, and tapped 100% as Genie, not an actor simply portraying a role.

Shea's Performing Arts Center - Buffalo, NY

Peter Hall, Buffalo Rising: I was hoping that this current production would be as thrilling, the Genie just as funny, and the big dance numbers just as "wow" as when a Broadway tour of Aladdin last came to Shea's in 2018. It was. Marcus M. Martin in his national tour debut as the Genie was a big and loveable as ever. And he loved the audience back with his huge smile and big voice.

Fox Cities Performing Arts Center - Appleton, WI

Daniel Higgins, Appleton Post-Crescent: The stage performance isn't a scene-for-scene recreation of the 1992 movie. Attempting such a thing would be a foolish disaster. However, the key elements remain. All of the movie's original songs get sung. Where the show differs, the writers did a good job of enhancing the storytelling. Updated jokes and pop culture references including a medley of Disney Renaissance-era (1989-1999) songs during "Friend Like Me" also freshen up the 30-year-old movie. Overall, the musical remains true to the spirit and themes of the animated film original that propelled it to be the top-grossing film the year it was released.

Kravis Center for the Performing Arts - West Palm Beach, FL

Palm Beach Daily News, Mary Damiano: Roy and Ahmady have terrific chemistry and both get a big solo in the first act that showcases their vocal prowess and explains their personal plight. Their best scene is their duet of "A Whole New World" performed while soaring above the stage on a magic carpet. The beloved ballad comes to life, with the staging illustrating the lyrics in an enchanting spectacle.

Adrienne Arsht Center - Miami, FL

Mary Jo Shore, Miami's Community News: The musical retains the family-friendly plot of the Disney film, sweeping audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance. We couldn't help but sing along to our favorite songs from the Academy Award-winning soundtrack and. enjoyed the additional songs written specifically for the stage.

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall - Sarasota, FL

Jay Handelman, Herald-Tribune: But the biggest and most welcome change is with the Genie played by Marcus M. Martin. There was no way a stage show could compete with the memory of Robin Williams, who used his voice to inspire the shape-shifting depiction of Genie seen in cartoon form.

Kay Kipling, Sarasota Magazine: There's also a quieter charm to the familiar duet "A Whole New World" (yes, a flying carpet is involved) and "A Million Miles Away," but chances are it's those big dance numbers you're going to remember most. I'm sure some adjustments were made to the original Broadway staging to make touring more efficient, but it doesn't feel like anything was skimped on here. And the cast members all have opportunities to stand out and make the most of them.

Robinson Performance Hall - Little Rock, AR

Eric E. Harrison, Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette: You've never seen a genie like the one heading up the cast of the national tour of "Disney's Aladdin." Marcus M. Martin grabs the show by its turban from the very opening and shakes it -- and himself -- until gold practically pours out of its theatrical ears. The show is gorgeously staged, choreographed and costumed, to the point to which it would put a Vegas revue to shame.

Bass Concert Hall - Austin, TX

Bob Abelman, The Austin Chronicle: It's also a lot to perform and, quite frankly, the very busy ensemble seemed a bit shell-shocked themselves upon taking the Bass Center Hall stage after four months on the road with short stays in lots of cities and the long travel in between. Out of the gate, their performances were lackluster and rote. So was the early work turned in by Colt Prattes, Ben Chavez, and Jake Letts, who play Aladdin's buddies and provide much of the comedy throughout the show. Also problematic was the poor sound mixing, which is typical of the opening nights of touring shows. It allowed the talented orchestra under James Dodgson's baton to drown out much of the singing and dialogue which, in turn, called undue attention to Alan Menken's occasionally inspired but largely forgettable score, which made it hard to get lost in the musical.

Playhouse Square - Cleveland, OH

Roy Berko, BroadwayWorld: The touring company is a visual delight of Arabian night costumes, sets and music. However, the cast, who mostly are making their professional tour appearances, is either tired from a long tour, doesn't have the needed experience, or just doesn't have the singing and acting chops to carry the show to its potential dynamics.

National Arts Centre - Ottawa, ON

Courtney Castelino, BroadwayWorld: This was a rare musical where I thought that the acting stood out above certain vocal performances, notably for Roy and Ahmady. The two had good chemistry, but lacked the ability to do the heavy lifting on some songs. This was particularly evident during "A Whole New World"; seeing the magic carpet twisting and turning as it floated through the air was dazzling, but the number required more vocal prowess to make the moment truly magical. I should note that many of cast, including Ahmady, are having their professional debuts on this tour. With their potential, it is obvious that the experience they gain here will reap rewards for them in the future.

Auditorium Theatre - Rochester, NY

Colin Fleming-Stumpf, BroadwayWorld: "Aladdin" features a talented and diverse cast, from Nagraj's maniacal Jafar (and his impressively evil laugh to boot) to Ahmady's sweet and gentle Jasmine, but just as the animated "Aladdin" will always be synonymous with Robin Williams, all that see this touring "Aladdin" will surely agree that the show belongs to Marcus M. Martin. Martin's physical comedy, ownership of the stage, and nonstop laughs make "Aladdin" worth the cost of admission, particularly in big ensemble numbers like "Friend Like Me" and "Prince Ali". Martin's huge presence is even enough to mask some pieces of the show that don't work as well (particularly some overly cheeseball dialogue and a few reductive jokes that teeter on the edge of cringy fat-shaming).

National Theatre - Washington, DC

Olivia Murray, BroadwayWorld: As someone who religiously watched the animated film all throughout my childhood, I was very excited to see this show. But I also wondered how the production could produce such a story including a genie from a lamp, a flying carpet, and amazing visuals? Have no fear - with fantastic singing, acting, choreography, costume and scenic design, and a bit of "Broadway magic," this show is one that upholds the standard of its original medium. Each element of this production integrates together so well that you're left amazed and enchanted throughout the entire performance.

Jordan Wright, Zebra: A splendiferous production! Highly recommended. Bring your kids. Bring all the kids in the neighborhood!

Tennessee Performing Arts Center - Nashville, TN

Jeffrey Ellis, BroadwayWorld: Featuring a company of tremendously talented and very, very pretty people who bring the wonder and magic of an Arabian Nights adventure to the stage of Tennessee Performing Arts Center's Andrew Jackson Hall for an eight-performance run through Sunday, May 7, Disney's Aladdin is theater for fans of all ages, with a terrifically hummable score (some of the songs come from the 1992 Disney animated film of the same name, while others were composed for the stage musical), energetic, athletic dancing (in fact, we're told early on that everyone in fictional Agrabah is a dance minor) and eye-poppingly gorgeous costumes and stunning scenic design, lighting, projections and illusions. In fact, there's so much that glitters about Disney's Aladdin that you'll finally know why sequins are in such short supply at present. [Editor's Note: That, gentle readers, is a joke - we know nothing about supply chain issues regarding glitter and sequins.]

Fisher Theatre - Detroit, MI

Carmichael Cruz, Click On Detroit: Adi Roy is a charismatic and wide-eyed Aladdin, running around the stage, jumping and dancing, all while singing flawlessly. He impressively transitions from the high-flying, acrobatic "One Jump Ahead" straight into the ballad "Proud of Your Boy." Roy's youthful charm makes it easy to forget his character is essentially a con artist.

Kansas City Music Hall - Kansas City, MO

Brynn Winkler, The Pitch: The complete show-stopper for Martin and the entire cast, which earned a partial standing ovation mid-show, was the nearly 8-minute-long “Friend Like Me.” This number alone was a whole production in and of itself, with energetic choreography and over-the-top set design and costumes.

Popejoy Hall - Albuquerque, NM

Adrian Gomez, ABQ Journal: Senzel Ahmady has the huge task of Jasmine, as she struggles to find her own way through life. She wants to be able to choose her suitor, as well as live the life she wants. By the way, her voice is angelic especially when she and Roy take to the sky on the magic carpet for “A Whole New World.” I’ll admit, my eyes welled up with tears.

Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium - Edmonton

Sarah Dussome, BroadwayWorld: But it is Marcus M. Martin who steals the show as the larger-than-life Genie. Portraying a role inextricably linked with the late Robin Williams is a tremendous feat, but Martin truly makes this theatrical version of the character his own. His wisecracks often leave the audience in stitches, as do his comical facial expressions. Watching him lead a sea of gold-clad tap dancers in the infectiously catchy Friend Like Me is pure Broadway magic and arguably the best scene in the show. 

Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium - Calgary

Louis B. Hobson, Calgary Herald: This is particularly true of the sequence in the Cave of Wonders for the song Friend Like Me which introduces the Genie played with a cheeky playfulness by Marcus M. Martin. The chorus members change costumes and dance style numerous times as the stage explodes with vibrant color and energy. As Robin Williams did for the film, Martin makes every moment he’s on stage memorable. He exudes confidence and charisma.

Queen Elizabeth Theatre - Vancouver, BC, Canada

Alyson Eng, BroadwayWorld: Some of the key differences between the film and musical were changes in the characters. To start, Aladdin’s pet and partner-in-crime from the film, Abu, was replaced with a loyal trio of friends that accompanied Aladdin throughout the show. Kassim (played by Colt Prattes), Omar (played by Ben Chavez), and Babkak (played by Jake Letts), acted as key characters, playing a big part in Aladdin’s character development. Additionally, another difference was the change of the secondary antagonist character, Iago, from a parrot to a human. Changing Iago to a human character definitely made the musical more level. Ditching the animal characters may not exactly pay homage to the original film; however, it was the right move for the musical adaptation to thrive. The creative team of Aladdin includes an impressive lineup with the book by Chad Beguelin, music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Howard AshmanTim Rice, and Chad Beguelin. The musical includes the songs fans know and love from the movie such as “Friend Like Me,” “A Whole New World,” and “Prince Ali” as well as some new ones. Aladdin includes 3 songs written by Menken and Ashman that were originally intended for the film (but not used) and 4 additional songs written by Menken and Beguelin. 

Vince Kanasoot, Stir: From the commanding start of the orchestra playing “Arabian Nights”, this production captivates from start to finish. A combination of Disney and Broadway, the show boasts a scenic design by Bob Crowley that takes us from chaotic village market to Jasmine’s pretty-pastel-coloured private chambers to a magic carpet ride through the stars. Crowley uses a number of painted backdrops and mobile set pieces that pay homage to the animated film, and in collaboration with director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw’s inventive staging, adventurous film scenes such as Aladdin’s chase through the village (“One Jump Ahead”) come to life onstage. 

To read more reviews and to share your own, click here!


Photos & Video: Check Out All New Images & Footage of ALADDIN Tour! Photo
Photos & Video: Check Out All New Images & Footage of ALADDIN Tour!

Get a first look at brand-new production photos and video of the Aladdin North American tour!

Review Roundup: National Tour of ALADDIN Launches; What Did the Critics Think? Photo
Review Roundup: National Tour of ALADDIN Launches; What Did the Critics Think?

The National Tour of Aladdin recently launched at Proctor's in Schenectady, NY. Read the reviews for Aladdin here!

Photos & Video: Inside Rehearsals for ALADDIN North American Tour Photo
Photos & Video: Inside Rehearsals for ALADDIN North American Tour

The North American tour of Disney’s Aladdin launches on Tuesday, October 11 at 7:30pm at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, NY, where the hit Broadway musical comedy will play for two weeks through Sunday, October 23, 2022. Check out rehearsal photos and videos here!



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