It’s been twenty-five years since the animated comedy Disney’s Aladdin was released onto the big screen, making it an instant masterpiece. Since then its legacy has continued on in the form of a smash-hit musical that has graced the stages of both Broadway and the West End. It is an extravagant parade of colour, music and choreography that whole-heartedly captures the charm, magic and ‘high-adventure’ of the beloved film.
Matthew Croak’s performance as Aladdin is wonderful, and his love for the role shines through as he bounces around the stage with a grin from ear-to-ear. His portrayal of the character is cheeky and lovable, yet his true talent is revealed in his powerful rendition of “Proud of your boy”. The song adds a new layer of depth to the show, but wouldn’t feel as heartfelt if it was not sung by such an incredible voice. There is a beautiful and noticeable bond between Matthew Croak and Jade Ewen (Princess Jasmine), their moments alone together on stage creating pockets of magic throughout the production. Their talent makes playing two of Disney’s most iconic characters seem effortless. However, Croak’s and Nicholas’ performance out-shone Jade Ewen’s portrayal of Jasmine.
Trevor Dion Nicholas excels any expectations you have about the Genie upon entering the theatre. With the unfathomable amount of joy he radiates throughout the production it may as well have been his opening night, and I’m sure that he will deliver that same enthusiasm eight times a week until his final bow. Nicholas is the beacon of light in this production, his spotlight almost outshining Aladdin as the lead role. As he entered onstage through a cloud of smoke cheers erupted from the audience! He is a true triple threat, with perfect comedic timing-making for a hilarious and unforgettable performance.
Undoubtedly the most impressive element to stage-adaptation of Aladdin is the sheer amount of energy and humour that they manage to pack into a two-hour performance. There isn’t a dull moment on stage as soaring ballads and rooftop dances are sandwiched between explosive dance breaks. It’s noticeable just how hard the creative team and crew work on this production, with what seems like over a hundred costume changes in act one alone. Scenic Designer Bob Crowley lights up the stage with an array of utterly dazzling sets, and alongside an incredible crew, they make it possible for downtown Agrabah to seamlessly transform into the golden cave of wonders.
It is often said that the show emits the feeling of a pantomime however, the original film was infused with the same lighthearted comedy and larger than life characters. Aladdin became the first Disney film to include pop culture references, and they have made their way into this production- eliciting laughs across the audience throughout the show. The musical captures the tone of the film wonderfully and wraps it in the glitz and glamour of a west end musical. The film, and therefore the show, was never intended to be a serious or deeply thought-provoking piece of art and stands its ground as a feel-good loveable comedy. Aladdin is not deep or insightful, but it is a massive spectacle, with slick dance routines and extravagant musical numbers – it is pure joy!
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