Anyone who grew up on Disney knows Aladdin. It’s a classic love story between rich and poor. It’s one of Disney’s finest, with Robin Williams as The Genie making it memorable and funny. But how do you transfer an animated Disney film to a West-End show? Well actually The Lion King has done it very successfully and now it is the turn of Aladdin to be given the theatre star treatment.
Aladdin is a poor boy who has to steal to eat but really has a good heart and often gives the stolen food away to those even poorer than he. His friends think him mad for doing so, but he is truly a diamond in the rough. Jasmine is a princess but not just any princess. An independent princess who wants to marry for love rather than wealth. She wants an equal and wants to rule her kingdom rather than just being a wife to a Sultan. She turns away many suitors in hope of true love. One day she secretly heads into the market place to see what the real world looks like. She is shocked at it but also loves it and meets Aladdin there who falls for her not realising who she is. To save him from the guards she reveals her identity and of course he realises he will never be able to marry a princess.
Jafar is keen to rule and is currently second in command so if something happens to the Sultan and Jasmine has not married…well it would work in his favour. However he has heard about a cave of wonders that will bring him unlimited power. However he needs ‘a diamond in the rough’ to retrieve the lamp. He asks Aladdin and Aladdin agrees as he wishes to better himself to have a chance with Jasmine.
This story is the perfect stage show. It is full of colour and excitement with an excellent array of songs incorporating some of the well-known Disney songs such as Arabian Nights, One Jump Ahead, Friend Like Me and A Whole New World, as well as a few new ones such as Proud Of Your Boy and Diamond In The Rough.
Matthew Croke plays Aladdin and is perfect in the role. Absolutely everything you would expect from Aladdin Matthew brings in abundance. He is handsome and cheeky and can sing really well, but more than that he is affable and shows heart. I couldn’t imagine anyone else doing it better! Jasmine is played by Jade Ewen and looks the perfect princess. She is indeed beautiful and compassionate but Jade brings a sassy quality to the role to make her a modern princess we can all relate to. Jade’s lovely voice was sometimes drowned out by the orchestra but that could be easily rectified by the sound man.
The Genie is played by Trevor Dion Nicholas and he has big shoes to step into. Not only does he require a multi-faceted personality, but he also needs an inexhaustible supply of energy. I don’t know how he does it but he is actually everything you would expect from a Genie. He is all over the stage and so totally brilliant that I found it shocking to read this was his West-End debut. He is absolutely fantastic and his performance in the cave of wonders is worth the ticket price alone. He can sing, dance and oozes personality that he is on my dinner guest list!
Jafar is played by Don Gallagher and is so good that at the curtain call I found myself booing him as he is such an excellent baddie. His make-up and demeanour give an air of evil and he is at times a little scary.
The show has some excellent funny lines such as ‘it’s awful’ being misinterpreted as ’did someone say falafel?’, also ‘Don’t question the scary voice’ and ‘I’m only allergic to three things, Dairy, Peanuts and Sequins!’ Maybe you have to go and see it to get how funny it was!
This show has an amazing cast with a fantastic set and not forgetting a full orchestra which is a really important aspect as the show demands it. There is a trend for shows to go for the cheaper ‘Instruments on stage’ option but I am so glad to see Aladdin did not take this option. There is no doubt that this show stays true to the Disney film and despite Aladdin being a popular pantomime, I was so pleased to see that Disney’s Aladdin stayed well away from anything that would put it in that category. I always think the true measure of a successful musical is after seeing it once, would you go again? The answer to Aladdin is yes.
This is an absolute fantastic musical suitable for all ages and is a sparkle extravaganza heap load of fun. Aladdin is worth its weight in gold!