“Aladdin” is Flying High at Dr. Phillips Center

Aladdin cast on the national tour at the Dr.Phillips Center.
Photo Courtesy of the Dr. Phillips Center.

The National Tour of “Aladdin”

Abracadabra and Alakazam! The national tour of “Aladdin,” which opened at the Walt Disney Theater at Dr. Phillips Wednesday night, has all the bells and whistles of your blockbuster Broadway musical.

Aladdin and Jasmine wrapped in each other's arms.
Senzel Ahmady Jasmine and Adi Roy Aladdin Photo courtesy of the Dr Phillips Center

The special effects are stunning; from the epic Cave of Wonders to the sorcery of Jafar, “Aladdin” is a spectacle to behold. And make sure you don’t leave your seat during “A Whole New World,” as Aladdin literally sweeps Princess Jasmine off her feet on a breathtaking magic carpet ride.

Based on Walt Disney’s beloved 1992 animated film, this touring production of the Broadway musical is a flamboyant revival of the familiar story we’ve all grown to love. Much of the original story remains intact; the setting is the fictional Agrabah, where we meet the “street rat” Aladdin (Adi Roy).

What to Expect from the Broadway Musical

After an accidental “meet cute” with Princess Jasmine (Senzel Ahmady), Aladdin elicits the help of a bombastic genie to win her heart. Cut to the villainous grand vizier Jafar (Anand Nagraj), who with the support of his Iago (Aaron Choi, who is less parrot-like and more of a sniveling sycophant) schemes to rise to the throne, and voila! We have a musical for the ages.

Like all Disney musicals that transition from cartoon screen to the stage, there are additional musical numbers, formerly cut songs, and new characters to replace Abu the monkey and Rajah the tiger (Aladdin and Jasmine have to have someone to voice their inner monologue). Much of this works well and only serves to add to the show.

Senzel Ahmady (Jasmine )and Company on Aladdin Tour.
Senzel Ahmady Jasmine and Company Photo courtesy of the DrPhillips Center

Fan Favorites and New Hits

For 30 years, the musical has delighted audiences of all ages, thanks to the expertise of composers Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Featuring favorites like “Arabian Nights,” “Prince Ali,” “One Jump Ahead” and “Friend Like Me,” this production doesn’t disappoint. Additional songs are hit and miss, including Jasmine’s “These Palace Walls,” “A Million Miles Away,” “Diamond in the Rough” and “Proud of Your Boy,” a lackluster song that was understandably cut from the original cartoon movie.

All of this is forgiven with the newly added song “High Adventure,” a vibrant and fun number performed by Aladdin’s pals and scene stealers Babkak (Jake Letts), Omar (Nathan Levy) and Kassim (Colt Prattes). These three talented gents are so entertaining they left most audience members asking, “Abu who?”

Beautiful Directing, Choreography and Casting

The musical is sumptuously directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, with music by Alan Menken; Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Chad Beguelin lyrics and Beguelin the book. The Orchestra, beautifully conducted by James Dodgson, had some issues with balance on opening night.

Marcus Martin performing as Genie in National Tour of Aladdin.
Marcus M Martin as Genie Aladdin Tour Photo courtesy of the Dr Phillips Center

The leading characters went about their business with customary gusto; Ahamady’s Jasmine was charming, Roy’s Aladdin was (to quote original Genie’s Robin Williams) “a little punim,” both with the pop-style voices one expects from a Disney musical. Nagraj’s evil Jafar boasts deliciously menacing bass tones while Choi’s Iago is an excellent sidekick. The entire company is powerful, especially Aladdin’s three buddies, played by Letts, Levy and Prattes, who leave the audience wanting more.

While the show may be called “Aladdin,” the Genie calls the shots. Marcus M. Martin’s Genie does the impossible; he takes a beloved character created by legendary genius Robin Williams and makes it his own. Martin’s performance is a tour de force, an energy-filled spectacle. Magical special effects may support and surround “Aladdin,” but the real magic of the show comes from Martin. What else do you expect from a Genie?

“Aladdin”

Walt Disney Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S. Magnolia Ave.

Now playing through Jan. 7

For information drphillipscenter.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by T. Michele Walker

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