Aladdin Broadway Review
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From solid slapstick comedy to magical carpet rides, this Broadway production lets the genius out of the bottle.
As the band began an Arab style beat and the curtain opened, the anticipation in the room was palpable. For many, myself included, this was their very first Broadway production, and it did not disappoint. Not for one moment.
The likes of James Moye (Jafar), Courtney Reed (Jasmine) Joshua Dela Cruz (Aladdin) were larger than life onstage. They were natural embodiments of their characters, their sense of movement fluid and their delivery always in character. But by far the most charismatic star on stage was the man who played the Genie, James Monroe Igelhart. As a performer who has been, “in love with the Genie” ever since he was 17 years old, Igelhart put his heart and soul into the role. He carried himself as a true ham: a genie with a loud personality who sang with attitude and cracked jokes about the downsides of his job.
Oh, and speaking of singing, the quality of Aladdin’s musical numbers was also off the charts. In addition to some of the original songs, many other songs cut from the 1992 Disney film also made their triumphant debut. They kept the audience on the edges of their seats with crisp, passionate singing, advanced dance moves, and unique choreography. The fight scene with Aladdin and his gang of thieves at the palace is a prime example of this, where the men, quite literally, dance around the blades of the enemy guards.
The set of Agrabah itself was also as vibrant as can be. Every piece of staging felt right, from the wagons in the market, to the city outskirts on the green screen, to the golden heaps of treasure in the Cave of Wonders. The character of the city ran deep and was nearly lifelike with how much detail it encompassed. Then there were also the special effects, which truly lived up to their name. One of the most memorable, and one that took me a couple seconds afterwards to figure out, was the reveal of the Genie. The magic lamp, set on the ground, appeared to be spewing smoke (from a smoke machine) as a cover up while a circular part of the stage spun into place with the Genie standing on top. The result: a genie who looked like he was literally growing out the side of his lamp.
There is almost nothing left to complain about this production. Save for a slightly anticlimactic ending, one that I will not spoil, the musical stood on its own two feet just fine, even with beloved characters like Abu the monkey missing in action.
Quite simply, the late great lyricist Howard Ashman would be proud to see how far his original work has come.
The Broadway interpretation of the hit Disney film does not simply replicate the original magic in the dunes of Agrabah, it amplifies it. The result is a can’t-miss spectacle of humor, dancing, dynamic characters, and stunning visual effects all wrapped up into one.
Taking a Holiday vacation out of town? Think about stopping in New York to see the musical Aladdin.
Where: 214 West 42nd Street, NYC. At the New Amsterdam Theatre.
When: All throughout the months of November and December.
Cost: $49.50 per ticket.