The smash hit Broadway musical Aladdin has been hugely anticipated by theatre goers, ever since it announced the show would open in the West End. People are clambering around to get tickets, with many performances already selling out. I was excited to go along and check it out but unfortunately I found it to be an example of how just because a show is a hit on Broadway, not every production translates well across the sea.
Based on the 1992 Disney film and featuring a mixture of new music and classic songs, Aladdin tells the story of a down on his luck boy called Aladdin who lives on the streets. When he bumps into a beautiful girl called Jasmine he falls immediately for her, unaware that she is a Princess who has escaped from the Palace. Unable to marry the Princess unless he is a Prince, Aladdin stumbles across a magic lamp with a Genie inside, who must grant him three wishes. But will Aladdin use his wishes to change the world for the better and free the Genie of the shackles of his lamp, or will he make himself a Prince so he can win the love of the Princess.
Dean John Wilson does a good job in the role of Aladdin, with his animated face and excitable little boy energy. Trevor Dion Nicholas is reprising his role as the Genie from the Broadway production and is a big bundle of laughter and comedy. He embodies all the qualities you would expect from a panto dame and is covered in more glitter than a craft shop. It is however Jade Ewen who steals the show as Princess Jasmine. I’m always wary of pop stars who are cast in musicals, as it can be a case of getting bums on seats rather than casting the best person for the role. Jade however shines as the Princess, delivering a sweet portrayal of the role whilst also showing her character as a strong woman.
There are some great songs in the show. A Whole New World, Proud of your Boy and One Jump Ahead, all beautifully sung and with bright colourful costumes and well choreographed dance routines. Of course the big draw in Aladdin is always the spectacle of the flying magic carpet which Aladdin takes Princess Jasmine for a ride on. This is well executed but doesn’t have the wow factor I was hoping for. An audience member summed it up perfectly by saying ‘If Mary Poppins can fly out into the audience with her umbrella, why can’t the magic carpet do the same’.
The big difference between Aladdin on Broadway and Aladdin in London is that we know the show so well as a pantomime. America doesn’t have a panto culture and so will see the show as a funny comedy musical but to me I just saw a very expensive glorified pantomime that I could see for a fraction of the price all around the country at Christmas.
Aladdin is a good, fun and colourful show that is very much enjoyable but sadly doesn’t quite live up to the hype it has received.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photos: Deen van Meer © Disney
ALADDIN is booking at the Prince Edward Theatre until 11 February 2017. Tickets