If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, get on that!) you know that I spent a few days in New York at the beginning of the month. I was there with a group of students and our goal was to tour as much of the city and see as many shows as possible. It was an exhausting few days, but we had an amazing time (trip report will be coming soon). On our last night we got to see the Broadway production of Aladdin, which I was so excited about. The Aladdin/Lion King/Beauty and the Beast/Little Mermaid years were probably my favorite (possibly because of my age at the time, but also just because they are awesome movies) and Aladdin holds a special place in my heart since I put on the production with my students last year.
The Broadway show follows the same basic storyline as the movie, but has new added music and some new plotlines which really help deepen the characters. We learn that Aladdin has recently lost his mother and is trying to clean up his act by not stealing anymore (unless it’s food, since that’s a necessity and all). Jasmine is as fiery as she is in the movie, which is something I have always loved about her. Jafar is still evil, Iago is still hilarious, and it is of course, the Genie who steals the show.
I loved so many things about this show, and many of them are what we have come to expect from Disney Theatricals. The sets and costumes were absolutely stunning. Given my background in tech theater, I always pay attention to costume changes and set/lighting changes during a show, and this one had a lot and they were flawless. I loved the new songs that were added to the show, along with the new characters (mostly Aladdin’s three friends). The magic carpet ride was just that, pure magic. It is such a beautiful moment to watch (and seems like basically the best job ever, riding on a magic carpet each night). Courtney Reed was a beautiful Jasmine; I loved her voice (even though she seemed like she was recovering from a cold, she still nailed the high notes).
Adam Jacobs was an amazing Aladdin. His voice is truly gorgeous (as are his abs). Plus, he was super sweet after the show, posing with all the fans and signing lots of autographs.
The true star of the show was Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart, who is the Genie. “Friend Like Me” was the indisputable highlight of the show (though “Whole New World” is a very close second). The stamina of this guy (and the ensemble) was pretty impressive. The cheers at the end of the song went on for a loooong time, it was so good (I always try to applaud for a long time after those kinds of numbers so the actors can catch their breath!). I told him I saw him at D23 and he thought that was cool (at least, in my mind that’s what he thought). He was silly and fun in his interactions with the fans.
Because I tend to be a bit of a critic when it comes to theater, I of course found some things I didn’t love during the show. We had the understudy for Jafar and his performance was lackluster in my book. And since this is a show designed for the whole family, some of the comedy is a bit cheesy and doesn’t necessarily work for the adults in the audience. However, the show is so visually and vocally stunning that these small flaws did not take away from my enjoyment at all. Director Casey Nicholaw is quite the talent (he also directed Something Rotten, which we saw and loved, and is about to have four shows running concurrently on Broadway–not an easy feat). I am really hoping that Squirt is old enough for the theater when the show tours here in California because I think it is the perfect choice for a first Broadway show. The kids in the audience loved it (it was one of my student’s favorites and we also saw Hamilton!), and the adults did too!