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A CurtainUp London Review
"I can open your eyes
Take you wonder by wonder
Over, sideways and under
On a magic carpet ride."

— Aladdin
Cast in Aladdin (Photo: Deen Van Meer)
It's a very sequined evening, is this sparklingly dressed Disney staged production of Aladdin. The amazing magic carpet will fly magically with no visible wires through starlit skies and the beautiful song "A Whole New World" will thrill the audience. Even the sides of the playing area light up with stars. The Genie (Trevor Dion Nicholas) who played this role on Broadway is magnificent. He will make us laugh and wonder at his inventiveness, even though I felt a tinge of sadness as I heard so many of Robin Williams' ad libs that Williams had contributed to the making of the Disney movie.

Exciting newcomer Dean John-Wilson (who happens to be Cynthia Erivo's boyfriend) will bring the street urchin Aladdin to life as he runs into a princess in disguise in the Kasbah. He can sing and dance really well. Jade Ewen is the beautiful Princess Jasmine. Don Gallagher, a Scotsman, will play the evil Jafar making the musical feel like pantomime in places. My English accent on visiting the Southern states was occasionally met with such hostility that I realized that the Disney villains, Jafar, and Scar in The Lion King had distinctly British accents and that American advertisements often used British voices to show someone excessively snobbish and misguided.

The sets of course are gobsmackingly powerful, spectacular and the hot lighting as striking as a flash bulb going off in rainbow colours. The children will be excited and wrapt. In fact one small child was heard crying after Aladdin found himself in the cave with no way out so maybe prepare the small children for scenes where Aladdin appears to be losing to Jafar.

Jafar's sidekick Iago (now there's a name out of fashion) is played by the diminutive Peter Howe parroting his master with the scary cobra staff. The other comic element is in Aladdin's trio of friends, more street rats, Babkak (Nathan Amzi), Omar (Rachid Sabitiri) and Kassim (Stephen Rahman-Hughes) who dance their way into mischief.

The entrance of Prince Ali's procession feels like a scene from the Notting Hill Carnival with that memorable tune. Even the denouement continues to thrill when Jafar gains control of the lamp and becomes a red Sultan but transmogrifies into a red genie and is finally imprisoned. There are dance numbers with dusky maidens and swirling scarves and turbaned men but the whole felt more Disney to me than the perfumes of Arabia.

The children will like it but I longed for the heart of Julie Taymor's "The Lion King".

For Curtain Up's review of the New York production of Aladdin in 2014 and the full song list go here.

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Music by Alan Menkin
Lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin
Book by Chad Beguelin
Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw
Based on the Disney Film
Scenic Design: Bob Crowley
Costume Design: Gregg Barnes
Orchestrations: Danny Troob
Lighting Design: Natasha Katz
Sound Design: Ken Travis
Musical Director: Alan Williams
Musical Supervision: Michael Kosarin
Starring: Dean John-Wilson, Trevor Dion Nicholas, Jade Ewen, Don Gallagher, Peter Howe, Irvine Iqbal. Nathan Amzi, Stephen Rahman-Hughes, Rachid Sabitri,
With: Michelle Chantelle Hopewell, Ivan De Freitas, Albey Brookes, Leon Craig, Fred Johanson, Oliver Lidert, Daniel De Bourg, Bianca Cordice, Melanie Elizabeth, Kade Ferraiolo, Seng Heck Goh, Antony Hewitt, Mitch Leow, Ethan Le Phong, Thierry Picaut, Alexander Pinder, Briony Scarlett, Sadie-Jean Shirley, Dawnita Smith, Marsha Songcombe, Jermaine Woods
Running time: Two hours 30 minutes with an interval
Box Office: 08444 482 5155
Booking to 11th February 2017
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 11th June 2016 evening performance at Prince Edward Theatre, 28 Old Compton St, London W1D 4HS (Tube: Leicester Square)

Index of reviewed shows still running


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