Broadway Across Canada
Aladdin music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin, book by Chad Beguelin.

When and Where July 25 - 30, 2023; Tues - Fri at 8pm, Sat at 2pm and 8pm & Sun at 1pm and 6:30pm | Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Director and Choreographer Casey Nicholaw Music Director James Dodgson Scenic Design Bob Crowley Lighting Design Natasha Katz Costume Design Gregg Barnes Sound Design Ken Travis Projection design Daniel Brodie

Cast: Aladdin Adi Roy Jasmine Senzel Ahmady Genie Marcus M. Martin Jafar Anand Nagraj Iago Aaron Choi Babkak Jake Letts Omar Ben Chavez Kassim Colt Prattes Sultan Sorab Wadia Razoul Cody Hernandez Prince Abdullah Ryan Rodino Shop Owner Kyle Caress Fortune Teller Alyssa Anani

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

Out of a very long line of adaptations from the English translation of a French transcription of a tale by a Syrian storyteller via literary retellings, comic books, Manga, pantomimes, musicals, live-action adventure movies and many animated films, including Disney's Aladdin, we come to this big, boisterous Broadway show.

Following the Disney plot, Aladdin, a poor boy who is also a successful petty thief, is recruited by a devious palace official to steal an apparently worthless lamp from a cave. Unbeknownst to the boy, the lamp harbours a wish-granting Genie, and whoever is Lord of the Lamp can command the Genie. Accidently Aladdin wakes the Genie. As he has already met and fallen in love with the Princess, his wish is to be a Prince. The plots of Jafar, the wicked Vizier, the marrying duties of a Princess, capture and imprisonment must be escaped before the happy ending. .

There are songs, there are dances there is glitter and glitz, but quite outstanding is the biggest, most boisterous Genie, in the extravagant persona of Marcus M. Martin. This Genie can belt out a Broadway ballad, and dance like a demon. he sweettalks the audience with bold encouragements to cheer.

Adi Roy, Aladdin, turns on the charm and a sweet voice to more than hold his own as the lovable street kid turned Prince. Every Prince needs a princess. Senzel Ahmady is the perfect match, having a sweet voice, considerable charm and a significant degree of feistiness.

Every street ragamuffin also needs a band of brothers. Three ruffians, Omar (Ben Chavez), Bablak (Jake Letts) and Kassim (Colt Prattes) back up their friend iin fine swashbuckling form. Prattes in particular sings and dances up a storm.

Bad guy Jafar (Anand Nagraj) and his sidekick Iago (Aaron Choi) slightly miss the mark as a menacing double act. Despite an accent you could cut with a knife and a full budget of energy, Choi failed to be amusing. Nagraj is very imposing, very much the stock villain. The combo should have worked, but for me it didn't. Sorab Wadia, the tough but tender Sultan, was poised, understated and elegant; Cody Hernandez (Razoul) with his Henchmen pursued with villainous style.

Costumes (Gregg Barnes), lighting (Natasha Katz), sets (Bob Crowley), projections (Daniel Brodie) and props made the stage an Aladdin's cave (sorry) of delights, from the lavishly heaped vendor's carts in the marketplace to the glittering walls of treasures in the yawning cave. Princess Jasmine's spacious, pastel boudoir was an island of calm and a dreamy stepping off point for boarding a magic carpet.

Clean direction and spectacular choreography by Casey Nicholaw kept the show moving at a vigorous rate. The large ensemble of dancers dazzled in a multifarious variety of eye-catching costumes and routines from tap to ballroom, Broadway to Hollywood. The bright and brilliant orchestra was led with brio by James Dodgson.

A small caveat about the book. The animals in Disney’s animated version have been replaced by human characters. The splendid trio, Omar, Babkak and Kassim take the place of Aladdin’s monkey, Iago the Parrot is Iago the human, both changes work wonderfully well. The characterful Rajah the Tiger, Jasmine’s comfort and support, has been replaced by three ladies-in-waiting who have little dramatic purpose and less autonomy. What a missed chance.

© 2023 Elizabeth Paterson