Ever since I heard Alan Menken announce at D23’s Destination D event at Disneyland in August 2012 that Aladdin was coming to Broadway as Disney’s newest musical, I’ve been waiting for it to become a reality. Well it finally has.
I was lucky enough to get tickets to Aladdin’s first night of Previews which was February 26, 2014. Official Opening Night will be March 20, 2014. Bringing the story of Aladdin from the 1992 Disney animated feature film to Broadway is composer Alan Menken, book writer and lyricist Chad Beguelin, and director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw. The cast includes Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Courtney Reed as Jasmine, James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, and Jonathan Freeman as Jafar. Jonathan also provided the voice of Jafar in the animated film.
I’m just going to say right from the beginning I loved the show and I’m not just saying this because I’m a huge Disney fan. With Alan Menken involved, I knew I was in for a treat.
Let me start with the Stage and Costume Designs. With a Broadway stage, depending on the size of the theater, you are limited to what you can do. But I was very impressed, the Stage Designs were incredible. From the streets of Agrabah, to the Cave of Wonders, to Jasmine’s bedroom; you truly feel like you stepped into film. To answer your question, yes you will see a Flying Carpet fly! The Costume Designers had their hands full. Not only did they have to bring the characters we know and love to life, but they had to dress an Ensemble Cast playing various roles such as the citizens of Agrabah, the Sultan’s royal guards, Jafar’s henchmen, and palace staff. The Ensemble had so many costume changes that it amazed me how they never missed a beat.
The show includes the songs we’re all familiar with like “One Jump Ahead”, “Friend Like Me”, “Prince Ali”, and “A Whole New World”. By the way, the audience gave a standing ovation after the performance of “Friend Like Me”. I’ve never been to a Broadway musical where a standing ovation has happened in the middle of the show and not at the end. Alan Menken was able to include in the show songs he co-wrote with the late Howard Ashman that didn’t make it into the film. Lyricist Chad Beguelin has written new songs that fit right in with the old ones. I really enjoyed how the songs “Proud of Your Boy” and “These Palace Walls” further develop the characters of Aladdin and Jasmine, respectively.
As for the actors, whoever was in charge of casting did a brilliant job. Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed breathe new life into Aladdin and Jasmine. James Monroe Iglehart had huge shoes to fill by taking over the role of Genie from Robin Williams and does a stupendous job. He totally makes the role is own while still staying true to the Genie we know from the film. Having Jonathan Freeman return to the role of Jafar was just icing on the cake. Getting to hear Jafar’s evil laugh and yell at Iago, live and in person, is just priceless. Oh yes, Iago is in the show, just maybe not as you might expect. For all you Abu fans, I’m sorry to break your hearts but he is not in the show. Although he does make a quick cameo appearance. Instead of Abu, we meet Aladdin’s three friends Babkak, Omar, and Kassim. Characters that were originally in the film but were cut from the final version.
Overall, Aladdin the Musical is a winner. It’s a show the whole family can go and see together. Following in the footsteps of The Lion King, Mary Poppins, and Newsies, Disney has again done a brilliant job of bringing our favorite Disney films to the stage. If you plan on visiting New York City, I recommend getting tickets to Aladdin.