Last week, Los Angeles was given the theatrical thrill of a lifetime when Aladdin soared into the Pantages Theatre. Based on the hit 1992 film, the musical tells the story of Aladdin, a young street urchin struggling to find his place in the great Middle-Eastern city of Agrabah.
Aladdin soon comes across a magical lamp harboring a Genie that will grant him three wishes, however little does he know there is a sinister plot to steal said lamp and usurp Agrabah’s royal throne. The show features music by the film’s original composer Alan Menken, as well as lyrics by Tim Rice and the late Howard Ashman. Additional lyrics are by Chad Beguelin, who also wrote the musical’s book.
The incredibly talented cast features three original Broadway cast members: Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine, and Michael James Scott as the Genie. While the show may be titled Aladdin, Scott proves first and foremost that the Genie is the true star of the show.
Originally an ensemble member and Genie understudy in the original Broadway cast, Scott displays how far he’s come in completely enveloping the character; having gone from Broadway to playing the Genie full-time in Australia, to opening the show in Los Angeles. Reed also stood out in her portrayal of Jasmine, whom many have viewed over the years as one of the stronger and independent princesses in the Disney catalogue. The show even makes mention of the question, “What would be so wrong with a woman running the kingdom?” Jacobs’ understudy Clinton Greenspan was on for the role of Aladdin at the performance I saw, but it wasn’t unfortunate by any stretch. Greenspan commanded the stage with enough charm and wit that it felt like the animated character we have all come to know and love was conjured into reality onstage.
Other standouts in the cast include Zach Bencal, Phillipe Arroyo, and Mike Longo as Babkak, Omar, and Kassim; Aladdin’s spunky pals who were cut from the original film. Jonathan Weir and Reggie DeLeon take a villainous turn as Disney favorites Jafar and his faithful assistant Iago, who is a human in this incarnation rather than a parrot.
Other notable stars of the show are the phenomenal scenic design by Bob Crowley and special effects by Jeremy Chernick. From the second the show begins the stage is completely immersed in a vast variety of colors, much like the film that inspired it. It must also be of note that no theatrical special effect has ever wowed me more than having the magic carpet fly with absolutely no visible wires or any kind of support from underneath.
All in all, Disney’s “Aladdin” is a magical, hilarious, breathtaking night of theatre not to be missed! Tickets can be purchased in-person at the box office or at HollywoodPantages.com.