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BWW Review: Disney's ALADDIN takes audiences for a magical ride at The Fox Theatre

BWW Review: Disney's ALADDIN takes audiences for a magical ride at The Fox Theatre

If you've ever stepped inside The Fox Theatre, with its ornate Middle Eastern themed décor, you'll agree that it seems as though you've stepped foot into a far-away land. It doesn't get much more perfect that spending an Arabian night in this theatre to see a beloved story that is also set in the magical and mystical land of the Far East. Between the scenery of the theatre and the magic provided by the performance, you'll have a hard time distinguishing if you're in Atlanta or Agrabah when seeing Disney's Aladdin at The Fox Theatre.

In a fully-fleshed stage version of the 1992 classic animated film, Aladdin takes new life and soars to new heights. Opening on Broadway in 2014, the critically-acclaimed production is now bringing a whole new world to audiences around the globe. Fans of the original movie will be delighted to see the familiar story elements and beloved score by the genius Alan Menken, with some updates to allow the story to come to life on stage.

From the moment the Overture echoes through the theatre, the nostalgia of the score washes over the audience. The most beloved character, Genie (the delightful Trevor Dion Nicholas), welcomes us into the great desert city of Agrabah, and immediately the opulent scenery and colorful costumes burst to life. We're introduced to the street rat Aladdin (Clinton Greenspan), the orphan who steals to eat but is desperate to rise above his situation. Of course, there's the beautiful and elegant Princess Jasmine (Lissa deGuzman), who must overcome her protective father the Sultan and find a proper suitor. As Jasmine opines about how she wants to marry for love and find her true equal, we're reminded that she really was an original Feminist.

With the evil advisor Jafar (Jonathan Weir) plotting to marry her for himself and control the Kingdom. Worlds collide when Jasmine and Aladdin meet in the busy marketplace, and a case of mistaken identity brings together the two start-crossed lovers. Meanwhile, as Jafar uses mystical ways to view how he could gain power, he discovers a tale of an all-powerful Genie that lives inside a lamp hidden beneath the desert dunes. He's shown that Aladdin could be the only one to find and retrieve this lamp, Jafar entangles him into retrieving it from the depths of the Cave of Wonders. When Aladdin discovers the lamp, he releases the Genie that lives inside. With the Genie explaining that Aladdin is now his master, he can grant him three wishes of his choosing.

While most of the elements of the story stay the same, there are some updates made to allow the plot to unfold on the stage. Most notable is the removal of Aladdin's monkey sidekick Abu, and the addition of three characters - Omar, Babkak, and Kassim, who take Abu's place as Aladdin's trio of misfit buddies and function as his faux-family. Additionally, the character Iago has been transformed from a talking animated parrot into Jafar's peon human sidekick. In addition to new characters, there are also quite a bit of new songs included as well. The best of these is the Aladdin solo "Proud of Your Boy", which reminds us of Aladdin's true emotions behind his tough-guy façade. More fresh songs are added into Act 1, and by the time the Cave of Wonders scene occurs, we're desperate to hear the familiar Genie show-stopper "Friend Like Me." Needless to say, the scenery, costumes, vocals and choreography are from this number are outstanding.

Disney Theatrical Productions has a reputation for creating beloved animated classics and translating them to the stage. In a show that packs a punch on special effects - 84 special effects including pyrotechnics and 38 tons of moving scenery - none creates a greater spectacle than the flying Magic Carpet during "A Whole New World." I'm still so blown away by how well the special effects for this item worked, that I can't even explain how it did. But let me assure audience goers this: there is a Magic Carpet, and it really does fly. With the amazing special effects and the notes of "A Whole New World" accompanying it, Disney has really created magic.

Through shimmering sets and costumes, outstanding special effects and witty, fresh dialogue, Aladdin has breathed fresh life into a beloved classic. I'd argue that I took more away from seeing the stage version of the show for the first time, than I did from 20+ years of being a fan of the animated movie. As this production continues to share this beloved story on Broadway and all across the country, they're instilling that magic into an entirely new generation.

Just announced, Broadway in Atlanta has extended a special officer for those under mandatory evacuation from Hurricane Florence to attend Aladdin for a special ticket price of $30. To purchase, patrons simply need to visit the Fox Theatre box office two hours prior to their chose performance and present a valid South Carolina, North Carolina or Virginia ID. The offer is value for all performances through the show's run, with a maximum of four tickets allowed per purchase. Tickers are subject to availability.


ALADDIN is now playing at The Fox Theatre through September 23rd. For tickets and additional information, visit www.broadwayinatlanta.com

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From This Author Stephanie Robb

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