Disney's "Aladdin" Demonstrates the Magic of Stagecraft

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The excellent ensemble cast of Disney's "Aladdin" playing at the Fox Theatre Nov 7-25, 2018. Photo Credit: The Fabulous Fox Theatre

Disney's Aladdin brings the usual splendor and fun you've come to expect from a Disney Broadway production with its limited St. Louis premiere engagement at the fabulous Fox Theatre, running November 7 - 25, 2018. Please note that an early version of Aladdin played the Muny in Forest Park back in 2012, and this show is from the Broadway script, not the earlier production. 

Most likely the audience will have seen the 1992 animated feature starring the late, great Robin Williams multiple times. If you somehow have managed to miss it, the plot comes from One Thousand and One Nights, which is a collection of Arabic folk tales. The Sultan (Jerald Vincent) is getting desperate to find a suitable suitor for his daughter, Princess Jasmine (Lissa deGuzman), who has very progressive feminist beliefs and has shunned the endless parade of chauvinist princes that seek her hand and her fortune. The Sultan's grand vizier Jafar (Jonathan Weir) and his henchman Iago (Jay Paranada), who mostly "parrots" his boss' proclamations, manipulate the whole affair to ensure that the Sultan's throne will fall to him. Meanwhile, in the marketplace of Agrabah, thieves Aladdin (Clinton Greenspan), Babkak (Zach Bencal), Omar (Phillipe Arroyo) and Kassim (Jed Feder) filch bread to survive while avoiding the sword-swinging soldiers that patrol for trouble. 
 
The Sultan's stubborn adherence to the male dominated traditions of the region pushes Jasmine to flee the palace and wander into the marketplace in disguise. She meets Aladdin and they instantly feel romantic chemistry. The princess gets discovered by the guard and taken back to the palace. Aladdin is drafted by Jafar to venture into a magic cave in the desert to retrieve a magic lamp, but he triggers a trap and is believed to be buried alive. Unhurt but trapped, Aladdin soon rubs the lamp and meets the Genie (Michael James Scott), who not only rescues his new master but transforms him from a pauper pickpocket to a proper prince. He tries to woo Jasmine but the princess doesn't recognize him and denies his advances. Aladdin then offers to take her on a magic carpet ride. Jasmine finally recognizes Aladdin, but Jafar manages to get his hands on the lamp and uses the Genie to usurp the throne. It's a short-lived coup as Aladdin uses his wits to trick Jafar into making an ill-conceived wish. Aladdin, once again in possession of the lamp, makes one last wish to send everyone home happy. 
 
Your favorite songs from the original animated film featuring the late, great Robin Williams are present but there are even more songs, incredible sets and costumes, and spectacular dance numbers to enjoy. The music comes from Tony, Grammy, and Academy Award winner Alan Menken, with lyrics by the similarly lauded trio of Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and book author Chad Beguelin. Clinton Greenspan and Lissa deGuzman sounded wonderful together on "A Whole New World," while shining individually on "Proud of Your Boy" for Greenspan and "These Palace Walls" for deGuzman. Michael James Scott gives a high-energy performance on "Friend Like me!" "Prince Ali" and "Somebody's Got Your Back." As the Genie, Scott has big shoes to fill following Robin Williams' frantic zaniness. He manages to maintain the steady stream of pop culture references without doing a perfect imitation of a role that really should be independently explored by the actor. Jonathan Weir is quite good at being the bad guy though Jay Paramada run a hilarious close second place.
 
Equal to the power of the preforms voices and dancing, the visual team for this production deserve high praise. Bob Crowley's scenic design, from the crumbling sandstone of the marketplace to the opulent patterns and textures of the palace to the golden glitz of the magic cave, every piece of scenery is a treat for the eyes. Natasha Katz's lighting design is brilliant, especially during the marvelous magic carpet ride, where the twinkling lights of the clear desert sky help to convince thee audience that there are no cables attached to flying carpet platform. Gregg Barnes' costumes create a gorgeous costumes look even more luxurious than they did in the movie, bedazzled with rhinestones on beautiful fabrics. In fact, Jasmine's wedding outfit is so laden with gemstones that it weighs twelve pounds! One of the biggest thrills in the show is the use of quick change stage magic. It really brings the Genie's transformation magic to life. 
 
Don't miss Disney's "Aladdin," a tremendous show for children and adults alike. For ticket information, visit www.FabulousFox.com
Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0