Aladdin is the brand new musical in the West End that takes you on a magical carpet ride to a whole old world of Panto Land.
The story is the classical one that we all know and love, Aladdin is a poor boy who falls in love with Princess Jasmine and with the help of an all powerful (with limitations) genie, overcomes the wicked vizier to save the day and get the girl.
I love the Disney film Aladdin, it is probably one of my favourites, with catchy songs and humorous parts. The musical is in many ways very similar, including the snappy classics of Friend Like Me, Prince Ali and A Whole New World. As well as many songs from the film, there are also new songs added in too, which are also upbeat. Unfortunately, the transitions between the songs were not always smooth, with them pausing at the the end as if to tell the audience when to applaud and in some instances, at the end of Friend Like Me, break character.
I heard from people before I saw the show that the Genie is one of the best characters, with Trevor Dion Nicholas coming over from the Broadway cast to play the Genie. In many ways I agree, he had an amazing voice and stage presence and was highly entertaining. The character did many references to other Disney films, singing snippets of songs from Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Mulan, in addition to doing topical jokes including Donald Trump and ain’t no body got time for that. However, the Genie was also one of the main reasons it felt like a Panto, with him breaking the fourth wall and speaking to the the audience at various points. As Daz pointed out, this also occurs in the film, however it also meant that at the end of one of the songs he was milking the applause which led to Aladdin also acknowledging the audience and breaking the fourth wall too. This may be an element that other people like, and it does make it very child friendly, but it is not a style I personally like, especially not in musicals. The vizar, Jafar, and his sidekick, Iago, also made it feel like a panto with “evil laughs coming on”, the hiss as they came on the stage, explicitly telling the audience their evil plan and begin used at the front of the stage as they did the set changes behind the backdrop. Once again, I am sure this is mainly used to make the musical more child friendly, however I personally disliked it and found that it meant it didn’t flow as well and was rather clunky.
A few of the settings were spectacular, especially the cave scene (to the left) in which everything on the stage was magnificent and had a purpose. Additionally, the carpet ride was amazing and was visually spectacular.
I also loved the costumes, with bright colours and intricate detail that you could see from the seats at the back of the auditorium. They must have taken hours to design and create! I would want to be in the musical just to try on the ensemble’s costumes. There were numerous costume changes, especially during the Prince Ali number, with each costume more elaborate than the next.
In conclusion, Aladdin is a bright and high beat musical, with spectacular costumes and scenery but be prepared for it to be very panto-esk.
All photos taken from http://www.aladdinthemusical.co.uk/