ARABIAN NIGHTS: Disney's 'Aladdin' comes to Broadway. Photo: Deen Van Meer.

ARABIAN NIGHTS: Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ comes to Broadway. Photo: Deen Van Meer.

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ALADDIN

Book & additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin 

Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman & Tim Rice
Based on the Disney film
Directed & choreographed by Casey Nicholaw
New Amsterdam Theatre

214 West 42nd Street, 
(866-870-2717), aladdinthemusical.com

 

By David NouNou

Theatergoers, be ready to welcome the next decade-long-running musical with open arms. If you have been hungry for spectacle and glitter, you have a feast in Aladdin. If you are tired of the labored, vacuous, threadbare and uninspired musicals, bring the whole family for a joyous magical carpet ride. For no one knows how to entertain and perform magic on stage like the Disney folks; and they are displaying a veritable smorgasbord for the senses.

Is it all perfect in Ali Babaland? No. The book at times is trite and some of the lines are hackneyed. The leads, Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) and Jasmine (Courtney Reed) are not awe- inspiring, but they don’t have to be; they just have to look good in their parts and be serviceable. The supporting players’ “friends” are at times hammy and should be reined in. Despite minor missteps there is a Merman/Channing diva amidst all this. We already have Mama Rose and Dolly; we can now add Genie to the roster. James Monroe Iglehart deliciously embodies him. He has the force and drive of Ethel and the zaniness and heart of Carol. What more do you need?

There is an additional plus, Jonathan Freeman (Jafar). He portrayed the voice in the 1992 animated feature of the same name. He is now in the flesh and good enough to induce hisses at curtain call. By the way, that is meant as a compliment, he is delightfully evil. Most everyone has seen “Aladdin” the movie and knows the storyline, why belabor the point? Suffice it to say it is equally enjoyable on the stage. It may not be as revolutionary as The Lion King, but is certainly as delectable as Beauty and The Beast.

The costumes by Gregg Barnes are a fashion parade unto themselves. The sets by Bob Crowley have a similarity to his Disney’s Aida and Natasha Katz’ lighting is always properly mood evoking. Casey Nicholaw, director/choreographer of such hits as The Book of Mormon and The Drowsy Chaperone, still has plenty of magic up his sleeves, but I do wish he could have put a tighter leash on some of the supporting players. In this case it’s more of a directorial issue because his choreography is still a joy to behold.

This is a show to be enjoyed as a spectacle and as a magical ride just for the sheer fun of it. When you go to Disneyland, you don’t go to nitpick some of the shortcomings of a ride. You ride them with an abandonment of a child in the body of an adult.

 

WISH GRANTED: Adams Jacobs as Aladdin. Photo: Deen Van Meer

WISH GRANTED: Adams Jacobs as Aladdin. Photo: Deen Van Meer

 

CAVE OF WONDERS: Adam Jacobs as Aladdin. Photo: Deen Van Meer.

CAVE OF WONDERS: Adam Jacobs as Aladdin. Photo: Deen Van Meer.

 

'ALADDIN' DUO: Courtney Reed & Adam Jacobs. Photo: Deen Van Meer

‘ALADDIN’ DUO: Courtney Reed & Adam Jacobs. Photo: Deen Van Meer

 

MORE SCENES FROM 'ALADDIN': Courtney Reed & Brandt Martinez. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann

MORE SCENES FROM ‘ALADDIN’: Courtney Reed & Brandt Martinez. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann

 

WHOLE NEW WORLD: Adam Jacobs as Aladdin. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann

WHOLE NEW WORLD: Adam Jacobs as Aladdin. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann

 

Edited by Scott Harrah
Published March 26, 2014
Reviewed at press performance on March 25, 2014

 

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