Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review of Aladdin (Broadway in Chicago)

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Aladdin. The music was by Alan Menken, and the lyrics were by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Beguelin. The Book was by Beguelin based on the Disney film. It was about a young man named Aladdin (Adam Jacobs) who lives in Agrabah and one day he meets the princess Jasmine (Isabelle McCalla). Her father's (JC Montgomery) advisor Jafar (Jonathan Weir) and his sidekick Iago (Reggie De Leon) decide he is a threat to the throne, but they also discover that he is the only one who can retrieve a magic lamp because he is a "diamond in the rough." Aladdin finds this magical lamp and meets the Genie (Anthony Murphy) who will grant him three wishes for (almost) anything he desires. It is about keeping your promises, duty, and staying true to who you are. I thought that this was a really amazing and spectacular show. The music, the acting, and the effects were all so great. I had so much fun watching it; I had a smile on my face the whole time.

Aladdin and Jasmine have such an adorable relationship. I've always really loved Jasmine, and she is my favorite Disney princess from that time period because she was the most feminist at the time. She seemed so powerful and sassy in this production and I absolutely loved that. Aladdin was also super great. He was charming but he was still a flawed character. A lot of times in Disney movies the flawed characters are just the villains, but Aladdin is flawed but still a good person--that is why they call him a diamond in the rough. They sang a song called "A Million Miles Away" which was all about wanting to get away from your problems. I think that was a great song because even though they have very different lives in terms of privilege, they still both had very difficult lives. I thought it was very moving because you could see the pain they had both been suffering.

"Friend Like Me" was so full of crazy unexpected spectacle. I thought that was amazing. There were fireworks, magically appearing and disappearing foods, people who gloriously appeared out of pillars, and tap dancing! What more could I ask for in a show! I wasn't completely sure how they could recreate all the animated elements of that song in the movie on stage, but they did--maybe even more beautifully because it was happening in front of your eyes! My favorite part was probably the medley of Disney songs from other movies that the Genie sang as part of "Friend Like Me." He did this whole pop star thing where he was like, "Now, I want to bring down the house a little bit," and he started singing "Tale as Old as Time" from Beauty and the Beast. Everyone started applauding so much; it was very funny. The Genie was such a great presence on stage; he really made you love the Genie. He is supposed to be so charismatic and lovable, and he certainly was!

There were three characters that were not in the movie, Babkak (Zach Bencal), Omar (Phillipe Arroyo), and Kassim (Mike Longo) who were Aladdin's friends. I think they were a great addition to the show. They have been around with Aladdin ever since he was out on the streets. They were good comedy for when the Genie wasn't around and they had a different kind of humor than the Genie. They are more comedy inside of the story and physical comedy, whereas the Genie is more verbal comedy and talks to the audience. My favorite song with the friends was "High Adventure." It was about the three guys going to rescue Aladdin from Jafar's clutches. There were some really good physical comedy moments, like when they were running in slow motion and then there is just a guy walking past normally looking at them like, "What is their deal?" Also, when they meet Jasmine's three attendants (Mary Antonini, Olivia Donalson, and Annie Wallace), they are stunned by their beauty and they flirt with them a little bit, which is a very funny moment. I wish the three attendants had had their own song, like Babkak, Omar, and Kassim did, because I would have liked to know more about their lives. And I wanted to know their names!

People who would like this show are people who like adorable royal couples, fantastic spectacle, and slow-motion running. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It was so much fun to watch, and I absolutely loved it!

Photos: Deen Van Meer

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