Review: It's a Whole New World in Disney's ALADDIN, Dual Language Edition at LA Theatre Center
The critically acclaimed smash hit musical, Disney's Aladdin, Dual Language Edition is being presented through September 17 by Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo and TNH Productions, in association with El Centro Del Pueblo and CASA 0101 Theater, in a new expanded guest production on Stage Three at Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. The musical features a Book by Jim Luigs and José Cruz González, Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, Music Adapted, Arranged and Orchestrated by Bryan Louiselle, with Lyric Translations by Walterio Pezqueira.
The production is directed by Rigo Tejeda, Founding Artistic Director of TNH Productions, who shares, "We are very excited about the remount of our production on a much larger stage with a cast of 24 and a new set designed by Marco De Leon, with new special effects including The Magic Carpet and other special surprises." Crew credits include Executive Producer Conrado Terrazas, Producer Felipe Agredano, musical direction by Caroline Benzon, choreography by Tania Possick, with a wide variety of costumes by Abel Alvarado, set by Marco De Leon, projections by YeeEun Nam, and sound design by Vincent A. Sanchez.
Performed in both English and Spanish to appeal to a broader Los Angeles fan base, the family friendly musical fantasy Disney's Aladdin, Dual Language Edition is set in the fictional Middle Eastern city of Agrabah, where a beloved Disney princess named Jazmín (Sarah Kennedy, performing almost entirely in Spanish at the performance I attended, sharing the role with Valeria Maldonado), decides to rebel against her father the Sultan's (lofty Spanish-speaking Henry Madrid) wishes to marry one of three princes he has selected for her. Of course, she dislikes them all and decides to escape before the deadline to marry occurs.
On her escape route, she meets a street rat named Aladdin (charismatic Daniel Sugimoto who speaks mostly in English until later in the story), who is accompanied by spritely Sebastian Gonzalez as Abu, his pet monkey. The two are being pursued for stealing some bread to offset their hunger, so how will this chance meeting lead to ever-lasting love for the Jazmín and Aladdin? It seems unlikely at first given the Sultan's power hungry Grand Vizier Jafar (Luis Marquez, sharing the role with Omar Mata) is planning to marry Jazmín and assume the throne if she does not return and marry one of the princes before the deadline.
Everything seems to point to that eventuality until Aladdin stumbles upon the Magic Lamp, rubbing it and releasing a fabulously urban, street-wise and tap-dancing genie (scene-stealing Lewis Powell III, sharing the role with Finley Polynice). Powell was the most fun character to watch, appearing in a puff of smoke, dazzling in sequined costumes, to grant Aladdin three wishes. With his first wish to be a Prince so he can marry Jazmín, the stage is set for much merriment as things fall into place, leading to a lavish wedding at the end of the production, as well as an enchanting ride with Danielle Espinoza as the Magic Carpet.
To assist with translating the two languages, the musical features a "Greek" chorus of three sassy and gossiping Royal Translators (Blanca Espinoza, Shanara Sanders, Beatriz Tasha Magaña), all dressed in courtly attire who often make fun of the merriment taking place around the mosque. The production device keeps audiences well-informed on whatever story details they are not able to understand, making it much easier than you would think to comprehend everything being said in a language not your own. These talented young performers are also accomplished dancers, as are many members of the youthful ensemble, with their infectious energy overcoming any performance shortcomings during several large musical extravaganzas.
Certainly, the production is not on the same level as the upcoming ALADDIN due at the Hollywood Pantages next year, but with a cast of 24 local and enthusiastic youthful performers, you can't beat this fun show for laughs galore at both child and adult levels as the plot unfolds to reveal "A Whole New World" for not only Aladdin and Jazmín, but the entire population of Agrabah and every little one in the audience getting ready to proclaim their own way to live happily ever after.
This new remounted 80 minute production is presented without intermission on Stage Three at Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 for Two Weeks Only on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 5:00 p.m., September 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17, 2017. Matinees performances will be given on Thursdays and Fridays, September 7, 8, 14 and 15, 2017 at 11:00 a.m.
Tickets $39.00 each for General Admission, $49.00 each for Preferred Seating, $59.00 each for Gold Circle Seating and $79.00 each for VIP Tickets which includes the best seating in the house, one free drink and snack and photos on stage with the cast following the performance. Tickets may be purchased by calling toll free (866) 811-4111, or online by visiting https://www.thelatc.org/events
Metered Parking is available on streets surrounding the theatre and in an adjacent parking lot next to the theater located on Spring Street. Parking lots range in price from $10 to $15. The nearest Metro Stop is located at Pershing Square two blocks west of LATC on West Fifth Street and South Hill Street. That is how I got there and I highly recommend you do the same to experience the Whole New World of L.A. Metro!