I would hardly recommend Aladdin on Broadway to those who would like a quiet night in the city. The multidimensional nature of the musical speaks to the hype surrounding it.
By a country mile, the genie (played by Major Attaway) had the most challenging role to pull off. If you’ve seen the Disney version of Aladdin, you’ll have fond memories of Robin Williams exercising his range of talent through the voice of the iconic blue genie. In the Broadway musical, the genie’s entrance galvanizes the entire performance. His charismatic, energetic, and humorous contributions stole the show. If the show ever becomes too serious, the genie masterfully brings humor back into the forefront of everyone’s minds with a line like, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” With this effect, suddenly, I’ve even more engaged in how the romance and politics will unravel.
Telly Leung, who plays Aladdin, manages to capture the key moments of the protagonist’s development. In Act I, Aladdin comes off as a loveable thief. He steals food, but then generously gives it to poor elderly locals at the expense of his own hunger. In many ways, he’s a less intense Robin Hood character. Upon receiving his wish to be a potential suitor for Princess Jasmine, Aladdin transforms into an ornamented prince in a remarkable manner. Leung instantly walks with a swagger and subtly broadens his shoulders. Somehow, he still manages to mess it up with Princess Jasmine – I take my hat of to you, Aladdin, for failing in spectacular fashion.
Sometimes movies and musicals suffer from slow starts, but I found that to be far from true on this occasion. The curtain rises and the audience is treated to an enthralling performance of the song “Arabian Nights.” In what can only be described as a feast for your eyes, there was plenty to appreciate on stage. The dazzling colors and the twirling based choreography combined beautifully. The effect was luring in that I had the overwhelming urge to jump on stage and dance along with the cast.
When walking out of the theatre, the flying carpet and the Cave of Wonders will flash across your mind in a joyous reminiscence. Aladdin and Jasmine sing “A Whole New World” in the presence of a starry night while aboard the flying carpet. The flying carpet’s transparent wires gave the illusion that it was truly flying in the night sky, which made for a wonderful scene.
The Cave of Wonders, on the darker side, was personified with a spooky voice. Sure, it was probably an audio recording or a man speaking into a microphone in a small and poorly lit room, but somehow it reminded me of the ghost of Mufasa in the animated Lion King. Personally, I believe that if a Disney adaptation can stir memories of The Lion King, it must be in the realm of excellence.
My tangent on Disney movies aside, how can I sum up Aladdin in one word? Magical.
By Kishan Patel