by Lynn on February 23, 2024

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at the Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto, Ont. Plays until March 17, 2024.

Music by Alan Menken

Lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin

Book by Chad Beguelin

Based on the Disney film

Directed and choregraphed by Casey Nicholaw

Scenic design by Bob Crowley

Costume designs by Gregg Barnes

Lighting design by Natasha Katz

Sound Ken Travis

Orchestrations by Danny Troob

Projection designer, Daniel Brodie

Special effects designer, Jeremy Chernick

Cast: Senzel Ahmady

Brandon Burks

Kyle Caress

Aaron Choi

Nathanael Hirst

Marcus M. Martin

Anand Nagraj

Adi Roy

J. Andrew Speas

Sorab Wadia

Plus an ensemble of 23

A familiar story from a beloved Disney film loved by kids and families that is a dandy introduction to eye-popping theatre.

The Story. Aladdin is a scrappy street-smart, poor young man who travels with a group of friends in equal dire financial straits, so they might steal a thing or two. Princess Jasmine is an independent woman, obviously rich, who wants to make up her own mind about whom to marry. Her father the Sultan says there are rules that must be obeyed—she has to marry a prince. She also wants to see what the outside world is like so she goes in disguise to the market place where she accidentally meets Aladdin and both are smitten.

There is a duplicitous courtier named Jafar who wants to trick the status quo and become the Sultan himself. And there is a Genie who is released from his small, tight lamp when Aladdin rubs it, giving Aladdin three wishes, which gets the story going.

The Production. Aladdin is a bright, buoyant, engaging musical for kids who love the animated film and their devoted parents who want to make the kids happy by taking them to see it,  sometimes in costume (the kids I mean).

The creative minds behind this are stellar: from the hummable music of Alan Menken to the lyrics of Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin, to the eye-popping bright coloured set of Bob Crowley; equally dazzling costumes by Gregg Barnes and the illumination by Natasha Katz.

Performances are broad, big and bold. Adi Roy is a charming, sweet Aladdin. He accentuates his body language with an obvious bump or push to underline a point in bold. Senzel Ahmady is confident, in control and poised as Princess Jasmine. She sings beautifully. Marcus M. Martin as the Genie gives an over-the-top performance as one would expect of a larger-than-life character who just escaped from a tight, confining lamp. Once free, the performance is giddy with joy, bursting with freed energy and anxious to enjoy the space of a large stage and everybody else get out of the way. It’s exhausting watching him—and I mean that in a good way.

Director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw keeps the quick pace going without respite it seems. His choreography is more reminiscent of Fiddler on the Roof than “Arabian Nights,” but such detail is not really important when reproducing an animated film for the stage. He makes up in theatricality: confetti canons and explosions of streamers what it lacks in nuance and detail.

As for the sound (Ken Travis), it’s like a game, isn’t it? The sound folks of these touring (American??) shows think the music should be so amplified that your ears hurt. Why? The problem of course is that often one can’t even make out the melody, let alone the lyrics of the songs. And in the case of Aladdin that blaring sound is present from the downbeat.

It’s not all touring musicals that are guilty of this excess—bless you Six where one can hear every word and discern the music; ditto Hadestown. But so many touring shows are guilty of this. Do these sound people feel they are presenting a concert and the sound should be blaring? Why? It’s a musical, in an enclosed theatre. Don’t they understand the distortion? Is it fun for them to ignore complaints about the loudness? It’s not the presenting theatre’s fault; they are only presenting the show as prescribed. Still, the game—one complains about the sound and the folks responsible ignore it.

Moving on…

Comment. I thought it sweet that many young girls came dressed up as a princess. One wonders where were the boys dressed up as Aladdin or the Genie or even Jafar the evil courtier. In any case, Aladdin is a good way to introduce young kids to the theatre and nurture the future generation of theatre-goers.   

Presented by Mirvish Productions.

Plays until March 17, 2024.

Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (1 intermission)

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