BWW Review: ALADDIN at Orpheum Theatre Memphis
If you are a Disney lover like I am, Disney's Aladdin at the Orpheum Theatre will hit you right in the childhood. It's fun, vibrant, full of familiar musical favorites mixed in with some lovely new tunes, and it's packed with genie magic, just like the beloved 1992 film.
Aladdin was released in 1992 and was the fourth film in what is known as the Disney Renaissance. It quickly became a favorite among the public and became the highest grossing animated film of all time, until the Lion King was released in 1994. It's no surprise, then, that it made for a stunning musical on stage. Bringing back favorite songs, including "A Whole New World", which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, was vital in the creation of Disney Theatrical's Aladdin. With music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice (after Ashman's death), and book creator Chad Beguelin, the musical also brought forth songs that were created by Menken and Ashman but were never used for the film; it also added four new songs created by Menken and Beguelin.
The musical first premiered at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle in 2011. Several international and regional performances followed, until the show opened on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre on March 20th, 2014, where it remains to be the 11th highest-grossing Broadway production of all time. It was nominated for 5 Tony Awards, winning Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for James Monroe Inglehart's portrayal of the Genie. The cast album was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album. Aladdin launched its North American tour at the Palace Theatre in Chicago in April of 2017, joining other productions produced in Australia, Japan, Hamburg, and Singapore, just to name a few.
The audience is immediately drawn into a captivating set complete with magic. Aladdin is seen jumping from rooftop to rooftop and the set stays true to the vision of Agrabah. As the musical progresses, the audience is carried from one place to another. My jaw actually dropped when we reached the Cave of Wonders.
Something that you won't see much of in the animated film is the dancing. However, several musical numbers strike up the energy with lively dances and vibrant colors, making you want to sing along. We are introduced to some new friends as well, and enjoy our journey with them as much as we enjoy Aladdin's journey.
This production has a rather large cast and every single one of them is singing and dancing their heart out. Korie Lee Blossey brings to the stage the Genie's powerful energy with his own spin on the character. Jonathan Weir and Reggie De Leon's Jafar and Iago make for a wickedly funny duo, providing constant comedic relief. And Jonah Ho'okano and Kaena Keloa combine their whimsical vocals for a truly magical scene. This cast is fun to both watch and listen to.
All in all, Aladdin is quite the magical ride and you won't be disappointed. Catch the magic at the Orpheum Theatre until March 8th.