A MAGIC CARPET RIDE: WE ARE GRANTED THREE WISHES, AND ALADDIN IS A WISH THAT COMES THROUGH
A VISUAL DELIGHT OF COLOR, DANCE AND A GENIE WHO WILL STEAL YOUR HEART, ‘ALADDIN’ IS HERE FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
The Holiday Season is in full “Magic Carpet mode” this fall as the Magic Lantern and the carpet fly into the Orpheum Theatre with a wonderful production of ALADDIN THE MUSICAL. The full scale smash hit is now on stage at SHN’s Orpheum stage through the Holiday and will close January 7TH, 2018. ALADDIN comes directly from Chicago where the North American tour began earlier this season. Disney’s Tony honored ALADDIN first opened on Broadway in 2014 with lavish sets and a high end craft team. It takes 75 creative people to deliver each performance of this musical. Directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (“The Book of Mormon”) he brings many actors from the Broadway production. Three wishes you say? ALADDIN is one of those wishes that has become true!
The colorful “Arabian Nights” opens the romp in the city of Agrabah with sword swallowers, belly dancers, acrobatic dancers and swooping gowns, robes and silk scarfs of color. Gregg Barnes’ costumes are non-stop amazing, shimmering and exciting. The stage fills with moving fruit filled carts, and set pieces that bring the exploding dancers together. We meet the storyteller, spellbinding Genie, the terrific Anthony Murphy, dressed to over glam any other genie in San Francisco. This Genie reminds us “Even the poor people are fabulous” as the overpowering glitter of ALADDIN swoops into its classic Disney glitz.
Adapted from the Disney classic, composer Alan Menken includes five of his original songs from the animated film including the hit “A Whole New World” with new tunes that give ample room for Nicholaw’s clever direction and sizzling choreography that is “standing ovation” fun. With lyrics from Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin and the elaborate visuals are smashing. The glimmering sets by Bob Crowley and eye catching costumes by Tony winner Gregg Barnes are over top colorful Disney glam.
This amazing national tour company includes Bay Area actor Adam Jacobs who originated the role on Broadway, and brings the young Aladdin (Ali) his wonderful charm. He opens his entrance with the riveting “One Jump Ahead” with the entire cast, and easily sets the fast pace of this carpet ride. The charismatic Isabelle McCalla plays the spoiled Princess Jasmine with a smart Disney sass. The two actors bring great beauty in their on stage timing and hidden love as they sing “A Million Miles Away.”
The awe inspiring ensemble of Tony winners are in this cast and they bring it full throttle to this two and half hour musical. From the evil comedic geniuses Jafar played by Jonathan Weir and his stumpy hit man Lago played by the witty Reggie De Leon, they both sing “Diamond in the Rough” as they wrestle to win over Aladdin. The energized Zachary Bencal, Philippe Arroyo and Mike Longo, play Aladdin’s smiling band of brat rogues and win your heart in “Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim” that includes some high flying dance moves. Jacobs as the hero, has a smile and the charisma to match his many thrilling dance and songs “Friend Like Me” includes Murphy whose energy flies off the stage keeping the back row of the second balcony in the mix. Both their smiles are worth the ticket for this Disney classic.
McCall, is sterling and spirited and her voice pitch perfect in the iconic “A Whole New World.” When the two take flight in the show’s sweeping carpet number the kids at the sold out opening night performance were out of their chairs with delight. My only disappointment was the limited diverse casting, this can be a bit white washed, other than Murphy as the Genie, the diversity in the company is missing, yet the leads are a mix. It would be more powerful with a brown cast. Monsoon Wedding was a perfect example of diverse casting with East Asian actors and Hindi players so I know the intention is set for Broadway shows bringing diversity to color blind casting. This road version is as dazzling as the Broadway production including the carpet that becomes a character created by flight director J Allen Suddeth. It moves on stage while Aladdin and Princess Jasmine sing the iconic song. I thought I might see more of Mr Carpet but it was cut a bit from the animated story, but the carpet is still a glorious spectacle. The gold lantern is tossed around on stage and shines with Jacob’s fast moving hi jinx on stage.
Tony winner Anthony Murphy as the Genie steals the stage, despite the predictable romance between Ali and Jasmine this is Murphy’s show in a role that also brought Bay Area’s James Monroe Iglehart to fame and won ALADDIN its only Tony. Both these actors easily show off their gifted talent as entertainers and Nicholaw’s enthusiastic choreography is show stopping. Will Smith is set for the film version but Robin Williams set the pace in the animated film. The Genie is that gift from the bottle, and the sizzle of the second act opening “Prince Ali” brought some audience members to their feet, especially as the streamers explode into the theatre orchestra seating.
The villain, Jafar, predictably fails, so that Murphy’s champion Genie gets to say the Disney scored closing line "I just love a happy ending!" ALADDIN is the best dose for happiness and glee for your Holiday Season and the perfect show to take the family. The show is over the top filled with color and fun and you don’t need to think, just enjoy. SHN always offers some family discounts and 40.00 rush seats two hours before each performance. If you miss it for the Holiday, the carpet flies through 2018 so make it a New Years pop of explosive pleasure.
Disney Theatrical Productions
ALADDIN’ The Musical
By Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin,
based on the Disney film,
presented by Disney Theatrical Productions and SHN
Through Jan. 7
1192 Market St., San Francisco
Running time: Two hours and 30 minutes, one intermission
Tickets: $45-$241 (subject to change);
DAY OF SHOW 40.00 RUSH SEATS - 2 HOURS BEFORE EACH PERFORMANCE AT BOX OFFICE ONLY - CASH - 2 SEATS PER PERSON
MEET THE NATIONAL TOUR CAST
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE CAST OF ALADDIN