Published on April 16th, 2017 | by Andrew Bistak
Aladdin the Musical Review (Melbourne 2017)
Summary: Aladdin the Musical Review is perfect on so many levels!
Wow… if I had to tweet my review for Aladdin the Musical, it would be … “Ainsley Melham (Aladdin) = Amazing, Hiba Elchikhe (Jasmine) = Brilliant & Michael James Scott (Genie) = Spectacular plus Cast, Crew & Orchestra = A Flawless Production! Having grown up with watching the original Disney cartoon Aladdin plus its spin-offs, I was very excited to see the musical and although my expectations were high, this performance of Aladdin the Musical exceeded my expectations on all levels that not only paid homage to the original but brought it into 21st century with a couple of “Australianisms” thrown into this Arabian Night!
For the uninitiated, the story revolves around Aladdin, a common ‘street rat’ who dreams of something bigger and when he meets the beautiful Princess Jasmine disguised as a commoner, his life soon changes thanks to the nefarious Jafar (Adam Murphy) and his hilarious sidekick Iago (AljinAbella) who trick our young hero into stealing a genie’s lamp from the Cave of Wonders. As Jafar’s plan backfires, Aladdin unleashes the Genie for himself and from there, a friendship is born, including three wishes as our now princely street urchin (aka Prince Ali of Ababwa) saves the city of Abgrabah and gets the princess. It’s the textbook fairy tale which makes for the perfect musical.
Although a classic Disney story, what made Aladdin was the music and this musical boasts a collection of original and new songs to help tell this tale thanks to legendary composer Alan Menkin who worked on the film that with his team have created a new legacy. Memorable songs such as “Friend Like Me” or “A Whole New World” not only brought back fond memories of my childhood but were perfectly sung by the cast with music from a live orchestra that made the entire experience even more special. So the music is definitely the panacea for a great night out.
Compared to the original, Aladdin’s monkey Abu (there is a cameo) has been replaced by three characters (who were part of the original development) that are Kassim (Adam-Jon Fiorentino), Babkak (Troy Sussman) and Omar (Robert Tripolino) with Jafar’s parrot Iago now a man. Needless to say, these four characters had some great comedic moments in this productions with several laughs from the audience. George Henare also plays the stately Sultan to perfection and Hiba Elchikhe as Jasmine is brilliant who not only looks like the original Disney princess but her performance is not only entertaining but quite heart-warming and has an amazing voice. Then you have the amazing Ainsley Melham as Aladdin who brings a cockiness to his performance and although he mirrors the original character, he also brings something unique to the character, especially with his powerful singing voice.
However the star of Aladdin is the spectacular Michael James Scott as Genie who would not only make Robin Williams quite proud of his interpretation but also creates a new version of this loveable character. Unlike the original where the Genie could become larger than life, Michael James Scott somehow does this on stage. Needless to say, every cast member, including the great ensemble succeeded at bringing these characters to life with stunning choreography, especially the song “Friend Like Me” which was easily one of the best songs that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in quite some time. It was spectacular as was the magic carpet ride of “A Whole New World”… they were also two of the many “wow” moments from Aladdin the Musical.
To compliment this performance, the set of Aladdin the Musical really achieved at bringing the cartoon to life and whether it’s the majestic city of Agrabah, it’s sun swept deserts, the Sultan’s palace or the golden treasures of the Cave of Wonders, it was probably one of the best interactive sets that I’ve ever seen. Add in the excellent lighting effects (especially in the cave) plus the other special effects that I won’t spoil and the eerily real magic carpet ride, the set of this musical and its props is just perfect. Then you have the ever so shiny costumes that channel its Arabian heritage and once again Michael James Scott carries his costume the best thanks to his larger than stage presence.
Aladdin the Musical has become one of my favourite musicals and the cast, crew, orchestra and creators should be commended on such a spectacular and extravagant show which brought the wonder of the original animated film to life. If you only see one musical in 2017, make sure it’s Aladdin because it excelled on all levels and will be long remembered as one of the best.
For more information, please visit http://liveshows.disney.com.au/aladdin-the-musical