Prince Edward Theatre, London
Bright, lighthearted and fun, this is a great family show that has the power to enchant audiences of all ages. This latest Disney theatrical production has finally landed in the West End and what a show it is. Filled with plenty of glamour, fantastic songs and a great charm, you will leave the Prince Edward theatre with a huge smile on your face.
Based on the hit 1992 film, Aladdin follows the story of the ‘street rat’ and how he wants to make something of himself, but at the same time falls in love with a beautiful young woman he meets at the market place – who turns out to be the Princess Jasmine.
The plot might seem on the surface fairly flimsy and at times doesn’t always translate well, but with the help of the music of Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin the musical soars wonderfully with plenty of charm and strong spirit that draws the audience in from beginning to end.
There are several wonderful sequences that have been beautifully created by director Casey Nicholaw – such as the song ‘A Whole New World’ – which is as magical and enchanting as you would expect and ‘Friend Like Me’ that is delightful to watch for the choreography.
At times it does feel as though it slips into pantomime territory – particularly in the opening scenes which feel slightly forced. However, as this is a family show it probably won’t make too much of a difference to the majority of audiences looking for an entertaining night out.
Dean John-Wilson as Aladdin delivers a charismatic performance with a heart of gold and is instantly likeable. He gives a real sense of the insecurity and uncertainty of who he really is while trying to prove himself worthy of a princess.
Meanwhile, Jade Ewen as Princess Jasmine and making her West End debut is suitably feisty and frustrated by the fact she has to marry – a very modern princess in ideas. Perhaps more time is needed to get the chemistry between Wilson and Ewen needs stronger – which hopefully will develop as the run continues.
Trevor Dion Nicholas had the hardest job to do: to make the part of Genie his own – a role that was created especially for Robin Williams in the original film. Thankfully, he does it well and manages to delight the audience every time that he appears. His quieter but charming approach (with a little hint of diva thrown in) has plenty to offer the audience in entertainment.
Bob Crowley’s set design is simple but effective considering the number of different locations used throughout, the changes happen so quickly with a touch of magic that will certainly delight younger audience members, while the costumes designed by Gregg Barnes add an additional sense of glitz to the production.
Occasionally though, the stage does seem a bit bare and it needs filling if not with set but with more people on stage to create more of an impact, such as during ‘One Jump Ahead’ sequence. The show does rely an awful lot on reprises of the biggest songs in the show – particularly ‘Prince Ali’, which is a shame as the additional songs that audiences won’t be familiar with have plenty to recommend them – particularly ‘Somebody’s Got Your Back’, being both catchy and heartwarming – fitting in well with the other classic songs.
But the production does succeed in drawing out many different themes such as the idea of freedom is a longing for both Aladdin and Jasmine – despite the differences in their situation, both feel trapped in their lives and want something to change. It never preaches too hard about the idea of how much better it is to be yourself, but makes sure that the message is brought across effectively.
This is a production that will appeal to a wide audience, filled with charm and spirit that will certainly make you leave the theatre with a huge smile on your face and a song in your heart. Some will no doubt find it lacking in substance, but if you take it for what it is: a light hearted and fun evening out – you will certainly find plenty to enjoy.
Aladdin is currently playing at the Prince Edward Theatre until the 11th February 2017. To book tickets visit: Ticketmaster.co.uk, Discount Theatre.com, Last Minute.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Love Theatre.com, Theatre People.com and UK Tickets.co.uk.