Prince Edward Theatre, London – until 28 April 2018
How can it possibly be 25 years since the classic Disney film of Aladdin was released? No matter how many times you watch the film it feels as though it has only been released. Now those who love the film can experience it in a whole new way with this dazzlingly colourful and entertaining production now playing at the Prince Edward Theatre.
Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, the production keeps the spirit of the film alive by retaining its sense of fun and heart thanks to its explosion of energy and the strength of the character’s bond to each other. But on the other side of this, Aladdin as a stage musical has some new elements to it (including songs not featured in the original film) that keep it feeling refreshed and new for those who adored the film.
Everything about the production manages to dazzle the audience, allowing them to be swept away on the journey that Aladdin takes with his friends. This is particularly evident in the Cave of Wonders scene, which is brought to life with great imagination, even sending a chill down the spine when it comes to that ‘spooky voice’ and the ‘A Whole New World’ sequence which is simply breathtaking and magical.
While the majority of the main elements of the film are there (just don’t go expecting a monkey or a tiger on stage!), it is great to see how the stage production comes into its own with a couple of elements that make it stand out on its own accord – rather than simply being compared to the film. These elements include the addition of several songs not used in the film such as ‘Proud of Your Boy’ – a touching song Aladdin sings in reference to his dead mother and the flamboyant and joyous ‘High Adventure’, both of which are great additions to the musical, slotted into the story easily. But also elements of the story have also had to be switched around to showcase new characters – including Aladdin’s new friends, which adds a different and pleasing dimension to the story.
Meanwhile, the cast themselves are filled with great energy and enthusiasm – none more so than Trevor Dion-Nicholas as the Genie, who perhaps the most difficult task of if not filling the shoes of Robin Williams then attempting to make the part his own. Thankfully, he succeeds with plenty of charm and humour evidenced not only in ‘Friend Like Me’ but during his scenes with other characters that show off his warm personality to the full.
Elsewhere, Matthew Croke as Aladdin is equally likeable – proving extremely nimble leaping around with great ease as seen during the number ‘One Jump Ahead’ but also as the main character really able to take control without overpowering the other characters. Jade Ewen as Jasmine could perhaps be a bit feistier in terms of her character’s attitude which needs to felt a bit more but she still delivers a charming performance.
Overall, the flamboyancy and colourful nature of the production can make it come across as slightly like a pantomime – but by the end you are having too much fun to care that much. It is a shining, shimmering, splendid show that audiences of all ages will enjoy.