I went to see Aladdin Tonight at the Prince Edward in Theatre, to relive one of my favourite childhood films. Aladdin is of course, the Disney film transported to stage. This is the Broadway production, transferred to the West End Stage.
At first, it took a little while to get into it. The first section of it was slightly slow, in contrast to the ending, which was too fast and almost anti-climatic. Let’s say at the start, I could see why it might have been classed as four-star production instead of five. I was also worried that it was almost pantomime-like. Don’t get me wrong, I love pantomime, just not when I’ve paid to see a musical. However it completely picked up, after about the first 20 minutes of the first act. The first thing to note, of course is the set, it started with a silhouette of Agrabah, lifting up to reveal a woven pattern of various cloths, fabrics and ribbons, capturing the beauty and the chaos of an Arabian market. This was complement by the costumes. The costumes were fabulous, I know I use this word a lot, but they were. Gregg Barnes, the costume designer, has outdone himself. Some of the most spectacular costumes I have ever seen. In speaking to the cast, they said they had a world record for the most costume changes in one song. Prince Ali, had some of the best costumes and props, an almost Lion King-esque style. Along with the lighting, displaying traditional Arabic patterns across the floor, these all added up to an immersive, and sensational performance. A Whole New World, a theatrical triumph. Stars strewn across the stage, tabs, and the frame of the theatre. I, for the life of me cannot work out how they got the carpet to fly, a stunning scene.
Onto the cast, at the beginning, I found Dean John Wilson, Aladdin, slightly mechanical in his acting, however I think I could put that down to the fact that Aladdin was never a really strong, or boisterous character. Also in the second act, he had picked up and was absolutely brilliant. Proud of your boy is becoming one of my favourite songs; his voice was innocent and beautiful. The same goes for Jade Ewen, who played Jasmine. The main actor of note is of course, Trevor Dion Nicholas, Genie. This actor is the original Genie from Broadway, which at first I didn’t realise, he was full of life, joy and had so much character that it filled the whole theatre. The whole character of the genie was perfect, saturating the performance with British pop culture references, such as Strictly come dancing. All the different Disney musical cameos made me longing for my childhood, and a marathon of all of Walt’s classics.. I was so lucky to see Dion Nicholas, and I would say that he did Robin Williams proud. The involvement with the audience was a good balance, mainly from Dion Nicholas, not too much, but just enough to keep the audience engaged, and immersed in the production.
The whole cast had very good voices and the music was so jazzy and fun. The numbers were huge, in any other musical I would have thought it excessive, but it fitted perfectly in Aladdin.There were also moments were the music created an aura of serendipity, showing a nice contrast. At the beginning, I disliked how slapstick and childish it was, however I forgot it was a family musical, and once I embraced that, all the magic and child-like innocence from Disney was brought to life in front of my very eyes. It was colourful, fun and magical. Overall an absolutely stunning performance. And to finish this, I ask, if you had three wishes (No wishing for more wishes, bringing people back from the dead, or making people fall in love.) What would you wish?