BWW Review: Stellar Cast and A Flying Magic Carpet Enchant With Disney's ALADDIN At David A. Straz, Jr. Center For Performing Arts
From a Kabuki drop and into the world of Agrabah the audience Friday night was completely swept up in a glamorous spectacle that continued throughout the evening. From moving set pieces, a flying carpet, and stunning costumes all the stops were pulled out for this production. Not one minute of this high flying production allowed for the audience to be underwhelmed. The choreography was perfectly in sync, and the voices matched and blended so seamlessly, it was hard to catch your breath from all the jaw dropping performances laid before you, as this cast truly like a well-oiled machine left everything on the stage.
Opening the show and taking us along the adventure was the outstanding Genie. Now anyone whom has ever seen Aladdin, or even the recent Disney incarnation knows the role of the Genie is not only pivotal to the story of everyone's favorite "street rat" but also provides incredible energy and humor to the story line. Korie Lee Blossey should be commended for the exceptional work presented Friday night! If there is one reason to purchase a ticket to this high flying show, it's to experience the unforgettable and not to be missed performance from this Genie's National Tour Debut! From the choreography to the unforgettable lines, and ad-libbed moments, he was the true star of the show. "Friend Like Me" was an unforgettable show stopping performance that I just cannot stop thinking about. The moment the Genie appears out of the lamp is incredible visually and vocally. An unexpected cartwheel was an amazing moment and truly shows how much energy goes into this role. I thoroughly enjoyed the almost "narrator-esque" take on the Genie in the production. His hilarious antics and booming voice kept the story moving and was a knockout from the first moment we are introduced to the world of Agrabah. If there was ever a Tony to be given for a National Tour Korie Lee would win by a landslide.
Jonah Ho'okano's Aladdin was everything we wanted him to be and more. His voice was impeccable and "Proud of Your Boy" was a stellar show of the power behind his voice. His tender demeanor and honest moments with Princess Jasmine tugged at your heartstrings in all the right ways. I liked Aladdin's almost nerdy aloofness, and his bumbling personality after he meets Jasmine was a perfect romantic tone to the show. Somehow through the nerdy façade we truly come to understand Aladdin has all of the right moves, and the right things to say, and the swoon worthy Magic Carpet moment of "A Whole New World" was truly breathtaking. Jonah should be commended for his tremendous performance and ability to carry a very demanding role on his shoulders!
Kaenaon Alani Kekoa was a strong Jasmine in beauty, voice, and principle. You truly feel for her plight in finding someone she wants to love, and not for whom her father chooses. Her moments with Aladdin were perfect and awkward all the same. An almost love at first sight sort of nuance that lent well to the story. Her voice was beautiful, and a standout moment was her first duet "A Million Miles Away" with Aladdin. The harmonies blended so perfectly together and were completely swoon worthy. One exceptional staging moment came when she first arrived in the Marketplace...there was almost a Tony meets Maria at the dance in West Side Story moment, and it was a nice touch to the scene.
In areas of Tech this show knocked it way out of the park. The costumes were ornate and stunningly beautiful and sparkled at every turn. The makeup and hair was wonderful and my favorite was the Genie in all his sparkled wonder. The scenery at every turn was more and more breathtaking, and the Cave of Wonders is truly something you have to experience in person. The use of projections and all of the moments of strobe and lighting truly made this an exceptional production on all levels. If the Cave of Wonders takes away your breath just wait until you see the undeniably epic Magic Carpet which takes this production to new and astounding heights.
With an exceptionally talented supporting cast at every turn, this was an incredible production. I walked away with all the songs replaying in my head! The choreography was perfectly in sync and there was not a weak link in the entire bunch. What was also astounding was how incredibly in-shape the entire company was in. At one point you begin to wonder if everyone goes to the same gym, and what strict regimens of diets they all must be on. Aladdin had some stellar standouts and truly epic performances but this was truly an ensemble piece and every angle was supported from start to finish. A well-oiled machine that I would see again and again, this hands down was probably one of the most enjoyable theatre experiences I've had in some time. I was truly taken aback and speechless at the end of this incredible performance.
This Holiday season the perfect gift for anyone on your list should be a ticket to see Disney's Aladdin which is on stage in Carol Morsani Hall through January 5, 2020. You would be doing yourself a supreme in-justice to miss this show! You can find tickets by calling the Straz Center box office or visiting strazcenter.org. So do yourself a favor, "Come on down, stop on by, hop a carpet, and fly, to Another Arabian Night!" It's a "Whole New World" in Tampa this season and, "...it's crystal clear..." the ticket of tickets is and should be Disney's Aladdin!
Photo Credit: The Straz Center