June 23 2016
Disney’s Aladdin arrives in the West End with an explosion of glitz and glamour… and we were there as the official curtain lifted…
By Tasha Mathur
AFTER two years on Broadway, Disney’s Aladdin arrives in London with glitz, glamour and high expectations.
It’s the musical that we’ve all been waiting for and anticipation certainly ran high at the opening gala of Aladdin last week. It’s easy to see the appeal in adapting the tale of “Aladdin” for centre stage in the heart of the capital. To re-produce a magical story of flying carpets and genies is a technical dream for any theatrical production company.
Nevertheless, there is always a risk involved when choosing to transform a beloved classic to audiences who have become attached to the original movie. And as Aladdin debuted at the Prince Edward Theatre, I inevitably found myself eagerly waiting to see all my favourites.
However, for a story as enchanting as “Aladdin“, there seems to be a lack of imagination as the production falls short in bringing back cherished characters such as Aladdin’s monkey sidekick, ‘Apu’ and Jasmine’s only the friend, the tiger ‘Raja’.
However, if you can tear yourself away from referring back to the film, this production is a visual and aural delight as it features a mix of old and new songs with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin, who also wrote the book.
The iconic, “A Whole New World” is absolutely captivating as the theatre is transformed into a starry night sky while Jasmine (Jade Ewen) and Aladdin (Dean Jean-Wilson) fly along on their magic carpet.
Former Sugababes singer, Jade Ewen’s fiery performance of Princess Jasmine and Dean John-Wilson’s loveable portrayal of Aladdin creates a great chemistry between the two stars of the show. While villain Jafar (Don Gallagher) and bumbling sidekick Iago (Peter Howe) provide a number of laughs.
But the true highlight of the show comes in the form of Trevor Dion Nichols who plays the whimsical Genie – a character who the audience immediately cheered for when he first appeared. Bridging the gap between the audience and the play, he brings a touch of panto to the show while making many British references – allowing the crowd to feel a personal connection with the happy-go-lucky Genie. From a mock “Strictly Come Dancing” competition to accidentally pulling out a Union Jack umbrella from his pocket, he had us laughing from start to finish.
The special effects are another treat with eye-catching fireworks and even a few magic tricks thrown in – adding to the enchanting charm of the story. Not to mention the glittering costumes and dazzling sets which transport theatregoers to a world of Arabic allure and glamour.
All in all, this musical is best enjoyed when considered as a completely new piece rather than an adaptation of the movie. Yes, the jokes are cheesy and perhaps slightly predictable but the spectacularly eye-catching sets and highly energetic music makes for good, clean fun and easy viewing for everyone.
ACV rating: *** (out of five)
‘Disney’s Aladdin The Musical booking until February 11 2017, Mondays-Saturdays, 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday matinees, 2.30pm; Price Edward Theatre, Old Compton Street, London W1D 4HS
For more info/booking: http://www.aladdinthemusical.co.uk/