BWW Reviews: ALADDIN Gives The Audience Everything They Were Wishing For
Michael James Scott must have known he had some enormous golden slippers to fill when he took over the role of the Genie in the national touring version of DISNEY'S Aladdin, which will be in Columbus from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4. Not only will Scott be judged against the performance of the late Robin Williams, who masterfully played Genie in the movies, Aladdin (1992) and Aladdin AND THE KING OF THIEVES (1996), but he also had to emerge from the big blue shadows of James Monroe Iglehart who won a Tony Award for best performance by a featured actor in the Broadway musical in 2014.
Judging by his opening performance at the Ohio Theatre (39 E. State Street in downtown Columbus), Scott doesn't need to worry about standing in the shadow of anyone. Scott brings an energy and his own spin to the three-wish granter in this traveling version of a Disney classic.
Scott knows his audience. As he steps on to the stage as the mysterious peddler, Scott jokes, "In Agrabah, we are known for this ..." and pulls out an Ohio State baseball cap. He then adds, "Sorry, wrong pocket. I had a chance to do some shopping earlier today."
One of the great things about this Disney-related show is that it adds many different details, including seven new songs, for the audience who grew up wearing out the videotape of Aladdin.
When he was writing the book for the musical, Chad Beguelin reincorporated three of Ashman's original pieces, "Proud of Your Boy," "Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim," and "High Adventure" as well as adding four of his own songs, "These Palace Walls," "A Million Miles Away," "Diamond in the Rough," and "Somebody's Got Your Back."
The delivery of "Proud of Your Boy" by Clinton Greenspan (Aladdin) is one of the emotional highlights of the two-act show.
Greenspan forges a palatable chemistry not only with Genie but with Jasmine (tour rookie Lissa deGuzman) and Aladdin's three buddies Babkak (Zach Bencal), Omar (Philippe Arroyo) and Kassim (Jed Feder). Greenspan and DeGuzman recapture the original movie magic with their enchanting duet, "A Whole New World" as their magic carpet soars far above the stage.
Another one of the enjoyable facets of the musical is the inclusion of new characters omitted from the film. Bencal, Arroyo and Feder provide the comic relief as Aladdin's partners in crime and folly.
The show would not be complete without the sinister Jafar (Jonathan Weir) and his sidekick (Jay Paranada). Weir is no stranger to playing the villain, having played Scar in DISNEY'S LION KING on Broadway.
ALADDIN presents its audiences with a blue print of how movies turned into musicals should be handled. It gives its audiences enough of the familiar to make them comfortable and enough creativity to make them feel that they are seeing something for the first time.
CAPA presents the national tour of Aladdin at the Ohio Theatre (39 East State Street in downtown Columbus). The two-act musical will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29-30 and Nov. 1 and 8 p.m. Oct. 27 and Nov. 2-3. Additionally, there will be 1 p.m. shows Oct. 28 and Nov. 4, 2 p.m. performances Oct. 27 and Nov. 3 and 6:30 performances Oct. 28 and Nov. 4. For more information, call 614-469-0939.