BWW Review: ALADDIN Is a Big, Flashy Spectacle Full of Musical Magic, at Keller Auditorium
The famous magic carpet has landed, or, rather, it has taken off, at Keller Auditorium with the arrival of Disney's ALADDIN. The carpet really does fly, and it really is magical, and it's just one of the stagecraft marvels of this show.
The musical ALADDIN is an adaptation of the 1992 Disney movie of the same name - in it, Aladdin, a young street urchin living in the fictional city of Agrabah, finds a magic lamp containing a genie and uses it to win the hand of Princess Jasmine. It's not exactly the same as the movie - many of the songs are different and characters have been added and subtracted (Abu, Aladdin's monkey, has been replaced by three trusty sidekicks). These changes are in service of the spectacle, which is the focus of this production.
My, what a spectacle it is!
The musical is an almost non-stop parade of acrobatic dance numbers performed in gorgeous sequined costumes (more than 300 of them!) against a brightly colored background. It's busy and beautiful, all those people in harem pants and belly dancing outfits shaking, shimmering, and sword fighting across the stage.
But, the main draw is the genie. Major Attaway, who also played the role on Broadway, brings this iconic character to life in a big way, with a booming but still velvety voice and a twinkle in his eye. His 13-minute "Friend Like Me" is likely the biggest, flashiest song and dance number the Keller has ever seen - complete with magic, tap dancing, and pyrotechnics, all taking place on what must be the shiniest set ever constructed. It's fabulous.
Other highlights include all of the scenes with Aladdin's friends, Babkak (Zach Bencal), Omar (Philippe Arroyo), and Kassim (Jed Feder), as well as some incredible costume changes and other special effects that I don't want to spoil for you.
ALADDIN does have its faults. Jasmine (Lissa deGuzman) is not a particularly interesting character, and the scenes between the big numbers sometimes drag. Fortunately, those slow bits are few - for the most part, this show rushes from one impressive spectacle to another. If you go for that, you're guaranteed a whole lot of "wow."
ALADDIN runs through April 7. Take the kids and enjoy an evening of wonder. More details and tickets here.