“Salaam and good evening to you”
Ah, Aladdin. When I got the chance to see the Broadway production, I decided I had to go full out to prepare. I mean, this was one of my favorite films and seeing it come to life on stage was going to be a pretty incredible experience. I ended up reading the original tale “Arabian Nights”, seeing the original Disney film, it’s lesser known sequels, and a documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty on the production of the animated film.
Here are my reviews to it all:
“Aladdin” from Arabian Nights:
I truly hope the charm was lost in translation because I thought this original version was awful: Aladdin was very selfish, the princess (named Badr, not Jasmine) was brainless; just not 21st century values. There were TWO genies, neither funny and both described as scary and ugly. No joke cracking or nods to pop culture!
Aladdin had both a mother and father in this version! His father died in the beginning of the story and his mother didn’t have much going on for her, despite…well being a mother. Massive kudos to Disney who saw the potential of this and made it into a masterpiece.
Do I even need to say it’s great? One of the true gems of the late 80s-90s Disney Renaissance era. A masterpiece. Every synonym to “fantastic”. I can go on and on.
The Disney’s Aladdin film sequels:
The Return of Jafar– Frankly, not good. Jafar returns. Iago (the bird) turns good…sort of. ROBIN WILLIAMS IS NOT EVEN THE VOICE GENIE!! A disgrace to the Disney and Aladdin name.
The King of Thieves– Aladdin has a dad and as the title should suggest, he is “The King of Thieves”. Kassim crashes Aladdin and Jasmine’s wedding, then Aladdin chases him down, family stuff, slight betrayal, then everything is happy in the end. Most importantly, Robin Williams is Genie and delivers the best lines in the entire film. The only sequel you should watch.
Waking Sleeping Beauty: A documentary by Disney, showing the making of their films from the late 1980s-1990s. This is only for a big Disney movie buff. If you don’t know much on the company or films, it could be hard to follow along. As someone who aspires to be the president of Disney in her future (I can dream, right?), I beyond enjoyed this film. As far as Aladdin goes, there is a touching tribute to the late Howard Ashman, who was in the middle of writing lyrics for the film but sadly passed away far too soon.
Aladdin: The Musical Review:
“Do you trust me?”
Regardless, here is a nifty preview of the show:
Main differences from the animated film:
*Abu (Aladdin’s adorable/hysterical monkey pal) and Raja (Jasmine’s lion) are not featured in the musical
*Iago (Jafar’s bird) is a human
*To replace Abu, Aladdin has three partners in crime: Kassim, Omar and Babkak
*The Genie is played by a human meaning he can not transform into a big pink dragon
*There are several new songs added from the film including a new duet for Aladdin and Jasmine as well as the Howard Ashman gem “Proud of Your Boy”
Adam Jacobs = Aladdin
Flawless. He is the perfect actor to play Aladdin. Fantastic singing voice, great comedic timing, beautiful dancer, I’ll be forever singing his praises.
Courtney Reed = Jasmine
Only complaint on Reed was at times she was a bit over expressive when singing. Despite that, she was a beautiful Jasmine who carried herself with poise and grace like a true princess.
James Monroe Iglehart = Genie
Everyone that comes out of the musical raves of two things: the carpet and the genie. James did not disappoint. So much so he won a Tony award for being Genie. I cannot imagine any other human playing this role, period. He. Is. Hysterical. A nod to Adele’s “Hello” has the audience chuckling, while his curtain call had everyone giving him a standing ovation, the only of the evening.
James Moye = Jafar
Sadly an alternate was playing Jafar at my showing. Jonathan Freeman, aka the original voice of Jafar in the film, reprised his role for the Broadway production. That in and of itself makes for an unforgettable experience. It’s not to say his alternate wasn’t good; he was wonderful, a great casting. I just wanted Freeman.
Joshua Dela Cruz =Iago
The other funny guy. I was curious as to see how Iago as a human would be and Joshua, did not disappoint. Great physical comedy and all around fun!
Steel Burkhardt, Jonathan Schwartz, Brian Gonzales = Kassim, Omar and Babkak
Aladdin’s friends that were not in the original film. There were a few awkward parts where Aladdin wanted to be alone, etc, but these three carried the story along fantastically funny, not even making me miss little Abu. Though they do have me craving middle eastern food after all their talk.
I thought it was a spectacular performance. All the performers were fantastic. The staging and costumes were magnificently stunning. The new aspects fit in to the original story well. It is everything you want and more from a Broadway show.
I may or may not be planning when I possibly can go see it again.