For my birthday weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to go and see Aladdin on Broadway. I love the movie, and wasn’t sure what to expect from the musical – but I was blown away and absolutely loved it!
Of course it includes the songs from the movie, but it adds new ones as well. “Proud of Your Boy,” which Aladdin sings, had originally been written for the movie but then cut (you might have heard it on a special features DVD). Then there are some new ones written just for the Broadway show. I’m always a little apprehensive about things like this, because the songs that are in the movie are so well known – can the new ones possibly live up? The answer is yes. I loved the classics, but I loved the new ones too. But hands down the highlight of the show was “Friend Like Me.” They expanded this song and went all out – it was an incredible showstopper. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a standing ovation mid-show! I can’t wait to buy the soundtrack when it comes out in mid-June.
Another highlight of the show was the visuals. The set and costumes were beautiful. There were so many costumes, and they were simply stunning. They were also very sparkly. The friend that I went to see the show with thought it was distracting, but I liked it. If you like bling and bright colors you’ll love the visuals here! If not, bring your sunglasses 😉 I’m surprised the costumes didn’t get a Tony nomination, but perhaps those that nominate were also put off by the sparkles!
One of the really interesting things about the show is that the role of Jafar is played by Jonathan Freeman, who originally voiced the part in the Disney movie. He does a great job here and is absolutely hilarious – he and Iago make a great team. Without a doubt the star of the show is the genie, played by James Monroe Iglehart. The audience was just in love with him. His comedy is spot-on, and his singing and dancing is great too. He manages to be hilarious while also making the part very much his own – I didn’t feel like there was much, if any, Robin Williams influence there at all, so I give him a lot of props for that. Aladdin, played by Adam Jacobs, fits the part well. He’s cute and looks just like Aladdin from the movie. Courtney Reed, who played Jasmine, also did a fine job.
If you haven’t seen or heard much about the show, you may be wondering how they deal with the issues of Iago and Abu. Iago is played by the short but charming Don Darryl Rivera. He’s very funny, even if the lines written for him are a bit over the top cheesy. Having a human sidekick for Jafar works out just fine. Instead of Abu, Aladdin has a trio of riff-raff friends. They were one of my favorite parts of the whole play! I didn’t miss Abu at all because these guys were so funny. They had some good songs too.
The only tiny complaint I really have is the ending. It’s not much of a spoiler if you’ve seen the movie, but it just felt like it was too rushed. The whole part from Jafar getting the lamp on just happens really quickly and feels less dramatic than in the film. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Jafar is stationary during the whole scene and everyone else just stands around him (this is in no doubt due to some really cool special effects involving Jafar’s costume changes, but it’s still slightly anti-climactic). Aside from fleshing that out a little though, there was really nothing about the musical I didn’t like.
Tony Award nominations were announced Tuesday, and Aladdin got 5 noms – Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (for James Monroe Iglehart), Best Book of a Musical, and Best Choreography. Of course I’d love to see Aladdin win them all, but we’ll see!
They also have some cute, but pricey, souvenirs that you can buy. The only thing that I went for was a glass of wine – I will say that it was the most expensive glass of wine I’ve had in quite awhile, but at least it came in an adorable souvenir cup you could take home with you! Plus, the cup had a lid and a straw so you could drink it at your seat during the show. I’m not used to drinking wine through a straw, but it was nice to be able to enjoy it while the show was going on!
All in all, if you’re going to be in New York City I can’t recommend seeing Aladdin enough. I hope to go back and see it again someday!