You won’t have to pretend to enjoy this re-imagined film brought to life theatrically to the stage with Broadway’s “Aladdin” at the Orpheum Theatre. Based off the 1992 Disney classic animated feature film, “Aladdin” made its debut on the “Great White Way” March 2014 at the Amsterdam Theatre and has been going strong ever since.
Heralding the way for later Disney smash hit films such as “Pocahontas,” “The Lion King” and “Tarzan,” “Aladdin” was so successful that it garnered an accolade for an Oscar Best Original Score, and won two Academy Awards for Best Original Song for “A Whole New World.”
“Aladdin” is a classic tale of mistaken identity. An orphaned teen longs for the extravagance and good life that only fortune can bring him. Then boy meets girl, boy wants to woo and marry girl, so he will do anything to pass himself off as a lofty prince to win her hand. His very fate changes when he meets a wish-wielding Genie in a magical Cave of Wonders. Drawing inspiration from “Arabian Nights,” the story of Aladdin was derived from the brainchild of Far Eastern folklore. Many stories reference “Sinbad,” “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and of course the iconic “Aladdin and the Lamp.”
Motifs and tropes that flow solidly throughout the show are that of integrity and honesty, a pervasive theme of kismet and upholding one’s moral character. If you think you are seeing musical “déjà vu” you’d be correct. Several moments taken from musicals like “Westside Story” are paid homage to and even go as far as to reference easter eggs like social media viral moments relative to millennial pop culture. “Aladdin” aims to be relevant to today with its punny quips and one-liners.
Aladdin, played by Clinton Greenspan, is a charming ladies’ man with wit and bravado. Jasmine (Lissa deGuzman) epitomizes the modern-day independent spunky princess who touts a feminist idealism, wishing to marry whomever she chooses instead of having her sultan father orchestrate an arranged marriage for her. Iago (Jay Paranada) is as squawky and irksome as his parroting character, and Jafar (Jonathan Weir) embodies the sinister vizier villain to a tee. The ensemble makes the cartoon characters come to life with every polished movement and animated character development to portray the fictional city of Agrabah.
Directed and choreographed by Book of Mormon’s Casey Nicholaw, with music by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, (later Time Rice) “Aladdin” is a rich production dripping with splendor and fairytale romanticism with iconic songs such as the rousing “Friend Like Me,” “Arabian Nights,” and of course, the memorable “A Whole New World.”
If you want to see a spectacular array of splendor and ethereal beauty against impressive luxuriously exotic backdrops, look no further than “Aladdin.” You’ll appreciate the globally influenced hand painted period costumes of richly beaded brocade and silk, a highlight of the show. Many garments, hailing from cultures all over the world, are encrusted meticulously with Swarovski crystals that glisten on stage. Costume changes are also rampant throughout, with over 300 of them, some in less than thirty-seconds flat. It really is a sight to behold.
Let the magic of “Aladdin” carry you away to a far off, exotic land of princes, thieves, cave of wonders, magic carpets, and a tale of romance and morale. Aladdin runs through January 27 and tickets are priced at $35 with exclusive VIP packages for sale.