ROSS PETTY PRODUCTIONS
Dates and Venue 7-12 November 2006 Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver
Reviewer Heidi Hoff
If you’re looking for a raucous live performance with a heavy dose of comedy on the side, then Aladdin, The Magical Family Musical is it.
Loosely following the classic tale of Aladdin, this version is a hilariously Canadianized (complete with “ehs” and “hosers”) and modern day story that younger teens and adults can relate to. While Jamie McKnight looks like the typical Aladdin you’d see in storybooks, his portrayal as a lottery ticket buying, skateboarding lay about is quite a different interpretation. Aladdin constantly disappoints his mother, Widow Jenny Bender (a cross between Dame Edna and Vicki Gabereau) brilliantly played by Derek McGrath but his luck changes when he meets his supposed long-lost “Uncle Carbuncle” otherwise known as Abanazeer, portrayed by executive producer, Ross Petty.
Abanazeer quickly develops a love-hate relationship with the audience who is encouraged to “boo” him whenever he appears on stage. Abanazeer/Uncle Carbuncle gifts Aladdin with a magic flying skateboard and takes him on a world-wide tour where they eventually end up at a cave. He encourages Aladdin to enter and retrieve a magic lamp which, of course, contains a genie.
Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart makes his debut much too late in the production judging by the cat-calls from his fans. Hart makes a physically effective genie and takes his role seriously, contributing a commanding character to the cast. And yes, there is a scene that involves a wrestling ring!
Particularly enjoyable are the dance sequences featured throughout the performance. Widow Bender and her side-kicks Weenie and Beans hoof it up to “Any Man of Mine” and McKnight’s vocal talents shine in “If I Had a Million Dollars.” A live camera is used music video style to hilariously capture close-ups in another number.
The cast is filled with well-known actors from Canadian stage and screen. Veteran actor Jennifer Dale (Sheherazade or Sherri or Shakira as she’s also referred to) and up and comers like Jamie McKnight, Rhoslynne Bugay, Mark Allan and Jonathan Ellul are a few of the many talented actors in this production. The ensemble cast of dancers bring this fast-paced live show to life.
This show is not necessarily for young children. In fact, the actors thumb their noses at the Disney version, preferring instead to bring it into 2006, and all the cultural aspects that go with it.
Aladdin, The Magical Family Musical is an entertaining 2 and a half hours and even features a sing-a-long at the end. Go see it!
© 2006 Heidi Hoff