Aladdin tells of a young street urchin who finds a magic lamp with a genie inside and manages to woo a princess. The musical features several of the original songs from the hit film including “Prince Ali”, “Friend Like Me” and Rice’s and Menken’s hit song “A Whole New World” which won the Academy Award for best original song.
Bringing a well-loved Disney film to the stage can’t be an easy task but the producers of The Lion King absolutely nailed it so when my friend Jen managed to get us £25 tickets for Disney’s latest West End offering Aladdin, of course I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t heard too much about it prior to going other than that the Genie, played by Trevor Dion Nicholas, had been part of the Broadway cast before coming to the UK because he is basically born to play the part and ohmygod he’s so goooood but I’m getting ahead of myself!
The plot of the show sticks very closely to that of the movie which will please the hardcore fans but with a trio of male companions replacing Apu the monkey it allows for some new songs (including some that had to be removed from the movie originally) to be added along with some truly excellent choreography. Iago the parrot has also been replaced by a human counterpart which I wasn’t too keen on after how beautifully people as animals was handled in the Lion King but that’s simply a matter of opinion.
Another strange decision by the creators is the decision to have the Genie break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience on several occasions in a way reminiscent of British pantomime which I’m sure was not their intention since I don’t believe panto to be a well-known art form in the U.S. This could have felt really awkward if they didn’t have such a strong actor playing the part but Nicholas really is the true star of the show, at least as far as the cast is concerned. I didn’t find the actors playing either Jasmine or Aladdin to be particularly engaging which was a shame.
For me though what really shone brightly were all of the trimmings. This show has some of the most jaw dropping set pieces and special effects (overseen by Jim Steinmeyer who worked with David Copperfield!) I have ever seen – perhaps only beaten to the punch by Cursed Child. The magic-carpet ride is truly magical with me struggling to see exactly how they were making it fly. The Cave of Wonders sparkled fantastically as the backdrop to Friend Like Me which was simply a spectacle to behold as Nicholas once again stole the stage. And the most remarkable scene for me was when they turned Jafar’s costume into a Sultan outfit in the blink of an eye – including somehow changing the colour of his hat at the same time – and then transformed it once again into the uniform of a genie.
Each of the costumes were an individual piece of art with over 300 used throughout the show. I think the only thing more diverse than the wide array of outfits was the cast itself. So many West End shows are made up of an entirely white cast it’s refreshing to see such an inclusive cast list! So from that you can take that I really enjoyed the show and if you love the film I totally think you will too!