BWW Review: Disney's ALADDIN Will Have You Wishing to See It Again
Their stage adaption of the animated feature Aladdin finally made its way to Broadway in 2014, getting a few Tony nods but only winning for James Monroe Iglehart's now-iconic re-imagining of Genie. Its book is by Chad Beguelin with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Beguelin. The national tour is currently stopping through Denver.
You'll recognize a majority of the story. There's still Aladdin (Clinton Greenspan), of course, but his trusty monkey sidekick Abu has been replaced with a trio of friends--Babkak (Zach Bencal), Omar (Philippe Arroyo) and Kassim (Mike Longo). He meets Princess Jasmine (Isabelle McCalla), who's not looking to be paired with another prince, while she's disguised in the local market. Meanwhile, the Sultan's Grand Vizier Jafar (Jonathan Wier), with his non-parrot sidekick Iago (Jay Paranada) wants to usurp the throne, and tries to use Aladdin to obtain a magic lamp from a hidden cave. Instead, Aladdin traps himself in the cave and unleashes Genie (Michael James Scott) from the lamp, who offers him three wishes. The classic story unfolds on stage with swordography, a flying carpet and stunning design work.
A few new songs are featured in the production. Some, like "Proud of Your Boy" and "High Adventure," were originally written for the movie by Ashman but cut after his death. Others were written by Beguelin for the Broadway show, incuding "These Palace Walls" (a number for Jasmine), "A Million Miles Away" (a duet for Aladdin and Jasmine), "Diamond in the Rough" (for Jafar and Iago) and "Somebody's Got Your Back" (a duet for Aladdin and Genie). The new numbers don't feel out of place and settle nicely into Agrabah's vibe.
While the stage version feels just as magical as the movie, the scenic design by Bob Crowley is a clear standout. The Cave of Wonders is a majestic golden masterpiece. The magic carpet ride is pure starry magic (even if I wasn't quite on board with the simplistic arrangement of A Whole New World--it felt dull). Gregg Barnes' eccentric costumes were something to marvel upon.
"Friend Like Me" is worth admission alone, but it could just be Scott's performance as Genie that had me wishing I could catch my breath from watching him. Or at least just Aladdin once more before it leaves town.
Photos by Deen van Meer