BWW Review: Disney's ALADDIN at The Kentucky Center For The Arts
As many theatre fans know, Disney isn't short of staged adaptions based on their beloved family films. Starting in the 90s with Beauty and the Beast, Disney has gone on to produce shows such as The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Tarzan, Mary Poppins, Frozen, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Freaky Friday (the later two sadly never made the leap to Broadway), with shows such as The Jungle Book, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Hercules currently in development. In 2014 Disney mounted it's Arabian fairy tale Aladdin on Broadway. Now, 4 short years later, Aladdin has embarked on its first national tour, making a two week stop here in Louisville.
For those who may not know the story, our Protagonist is an orphan street-rat who longs to make his mother proud of him, a vow he made before she passed, mainly that he would stop stealing. When Princess Jasmine escapes the palace they ultimately find each other in the village market place and start to fall for each other, but soon the law intervenes and tears them apart. Guided by his own wicked agenda, Jafar, the royal adviser tricks Aladdin into going to the the cave of wonders to retrieve a magic lamp that houses an all powerful Genie. When things go wrong and Aladdin is trapped in the cave, he accidentally rubs the lamp releasing the genie, and by using his three wishes, Aladdin hopes to impress Jasmine by disguising as a Prince.
Clinton Greenspan as Aladdin is in fine voice, and full of charisma. It's not hard to root for him despite has nature of thievery. Lissa deGuzman as Jasmine displays fantastic power and sarcastic wit, proving that Jasmine isn't like other princesses. Jonathan Weir as Jafar is slimy and evil in the best possible way, as he should be. However great the players I've mentioned may be, they all seem to fade into the background when Michael James Scott takes the stage as the Genie. He's over the top and delightful every second he's onstage. Not to mention "Friend Like Me" was the absolute showstopper of the night. Whenever the genie wasn't present, I always found myself longing for him to be, as he's just that good. All of the leading cast are supported by a fantastic ensemble of powerful singers and dancers, including Aladdin's three best friends... who sing a hilarious mid-act two song entitled "High Adventure" when they embark on a quest to save the day.
While the show is enjoyable, it very rarely pops with the type of pizazz that makes a spectacle memorable. The script is cheering and trite for the most part, relying on cliches and sophomoric humor. I understand the show is for children, but that doesn't mean it can't be smart, witty, and well written. The sets and costumes are good for the most part, and very much what you would expect from a stage adaption of Aladdin.
If you have kids I have no doubt that they will enjoy this show. There's a lot to like about it, and some stagecraft that is quite thrilling, but for adults this will merely be enjoyable enough, but not all that memorable. However, even when the show fails, the Genie is a solid reminder of why you came to the show, and he gives you what you were expecting in his fleeting moments of stage time.
Now - October 21, 2018
Whitney Hall in The Kentucky Center for the Arts
501 W. Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202