Disney Theatrical Productions
has opened a new production at the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway. It is the
same gorgeous theater which housed “The
Lion King” and “Mary Poppins,”
two awesome musicals. This time, it is presenting “Aladdin,” based on the film of the same name. While it does not compare to the two aforementioned
shows, it is full of energy and vitality and to its credit, it stresses the
message of independence, women's rights, and telling the truth.
They've put a great deal of
money into this production; the costumes by Gregg Barnes, which appear and
disappear on bodies instantaneously, are sensational, and lit by Natasha Katz
the scenic design by Bob Crowley is multi-faceted covering many locations.
Directed and Choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, who is a master of speed and
light, the dancing is nimble and demanding. However, the score by Alan Menken
(Music), Howard Ashman and Tim Rice (Lyrics)
with a Book and additional lyrics by Chad Behuelin is mediocre, except
for “A Whole New World.” At one point,
an excerpt from “Beauty and the Beast,”
is sung, reminding us of how beautiful that score was.
Set in the fictional land of
Agrabah, we meet the street urchin,
Aladdin, a very cute, ever-smiling Adam Jacobs, helped by his three talented
friends, Babkak (Brian Gonzales), Omar (Jonathan Schwartz), and Kassim (Brandon O'Neill), who are
thieves. They never stop running around and telling bad jokes. When Aladdin happens to meet Jasmine, a
pretty, perky Courtney Reed, he does not know she is a princess, who is being
forced to find a prince to marry. They fall in love, and he meets a Genie, who
is master of all. James Monroe Iglehart is such a big man with a big voice; he
really fills that bill with heart. We remember him well from the award-winning
musical,” Memphis.” Here, he is
the narrator, and leads the huge opening number, “Arabian Nights,” followed by
“Friend Like Me,” and a new number, “Somebody's Got your Back.” Genie leads
Aladdin to the Cave of Wonders where a lantern holds three wishes.
Meanwhile, it takes Jasmine's
dad, the Sultan, an authoritative Clifton Davis, some time to understand what
Jamsine needs: Aladdin and her right to rule the kingdom. Jonathan Freeman, who
was the voice of Jafar in the film, is the heavy here, aided by his snively
sidekick, Iago, Don Darryl Rivera; they do everything to hurt Aladdin and Jasmine.
“Aladdin” is associated with
a magic flying carpet. I would have liked a technicolor one, but this one is
dark to cover the technical stuff, flying through a sky sparkling with stars
and planets. “Aladdin” has its moments, some very pleasant, some too busy,
At the New Amsterdam, “Aladdin.”