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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 20, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 42
Aladdin makes wishes come true
Arts & Entertainment
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Aladdin makes wishes come true

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

BROADWAY AT THE PARAMOUNT
DISNEY'S ALADDIN, THE MUSICAL
PARAMOUNT THEATRE
October 15-29


The musical Aladdin comes flying into Seattle with all the magic and wonder that a Disney musical can produce. The smash hit is currently playing at Seattle's Paramount Theatre. It is truly a magic carpet ride for children and adults alike.

The story line should be familiar (as the musical is based on the hit full-length animated feature film). A young ambitious boy from the streets wishes for a better life. After circumstances bring him to the 'Cave of Wonders,' the young lad (Aladdin) finds a genie in a magical lamp. The genie grants him three wishes. He wishes to become a prince so he can be a suitor for Princess Jasmine's hand in marriage. Jasmine is a strong-minded girl who wants to marry for love and equality as opposed to the traditional laws and more misogynistic values. But the Sultan's evil advisor Jafar secretly plots to take the throne for himself, and must get Aladdin out of the way. Aladdin has to figure out that the best way to charm the princess is to be himself instead of a pretend suitor prince.

The cast of Aladdin has everything you could think of for a Disney stage musical. The costumes are colorful, the scenery intriguing - changing in a flash - and of course, the acting is stellar. Everyone in the supporting cast are all on perfect mark. The three handmaidens to Princess Jasmine (Mary Antonini, Annie Wallace, and especially Olivia Donalson) get to shine with the song 'These Palace Walls.' Each one also plays a part in the ensemble with Olivia Donalson standing out as the Fortune Teller. Aladdin's three 'best buds' are Babkak (Zach Bencal), Omar (Philippe Arroyo), and the standout Kassim (Mike Longo). These three get to add comic timing to the plot and shine in their own song introducing their names and characters in a kind of 'Hope-Crosby' kind of way.

Each of the leads seems to have their own individual support. Don Darryl Rivera plays the evil assistant, Iago. He recreates the role he originated in both the Seattle premiere and on Broadway, and there is no doubt as to why he continues to shine. His comic expressions and vocal command are exactly on spot sending the audience into gales of laughter. The Sultan (JC Montgomery) plays Jasmine's father with authority and a commanding voice. He is not the bumbling buffoon of the original, and has developed into a strong presence on stage.

Princess Jasmine (Isabelle McCalla) is a pure delight to watch. Ms. McCalla empowers this Disney princess with a strong will for respect and equality. She presents a strong presence when challenging her father's traditional values, standing up to the evil Jafar, or holding her own alongside the creatively intelligent Aladdin. Ms. MCalla's voice is beautiful - sending the audience into 'A Whole New World' of delight.

Jonathan Weir plays the evil advisor, Jafar. His voice and stage appearance were created for this role. The character isn't overtly scary so younger audience members will be able to enjoy without being terrified. His voice is perfect for the 'evil' advisor and he is the perfect straight man for the sidekick Iago.

Without a doubt this show belongs to Aladdin and the Genie. Aladdin is played by Adam Jacobs who is also recreating the role he originated in the Seattle workshop and on Broadway. His work and dedication from the 2011 Pre-Broadway premiere to the Broadway debut (2014) to now seems to have definitely refined him into being a very good actor. His boyish appearance is perfectly suited for the role as is his strong voice and presence. He easily charms the audience making them an unofficial ally in all of his shenanigans. From his first solo 'Proud of Your Boy' (a song originally cut from the film) to the film's breakaway smash hit song, 'A Whole New World,' Mr. Jacobs has fine-tuned this role to permanently associate himself with it beyond reproach.

The Genie is the unofficial narrator, lead and star of this show. Anthony Murphy brilliantly plays him. Without going too far to impersonate the cartoon original, Mr. Murphy brings his own touch to this over-the-top character playing it with the kind of flamboyancy that allows children and adults to join in the laughter. Mr. Murphy's talents (as the Genie) explode on stage like a glitter bomb staying with the audience long after they leave the theatre.

There are a few differences between the film and the stage production. The animated parrot Iago is now a human (Don Darryl Rivera - see description above) and the Genie is not blue. Abu is gone, replaced by three friends to add in comic relief and to enhance the camaraderie of the storyline. Honestly, we don't miss the monkey. Composer Alan Menken (who did the original film) wrote all the music. Lyric contributions on different songs came from the late Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and a good majority penned by Chad Beguelin. True to form Disney pulls out all the stops for special effects leaving the audience to positively gape open-mouthed as the magic carpet carries Aladdin and Jasmine into the air and across the stage. Glitter cannons are used, pyrotechnics, and all the Disney flash is there to keep the eyes of audience members as wide as their inner child will let them.

Aladdin is fun, charming and entertaining for all audience members. There are enough quick references to keep adults amused, and all the flash that children will be delighted by.



Aladdin is based on the 1992 Disney full-length animated feature by the same name. Amidst great controversy with Robin Williams (as the voice of the Genie - look it up) and some of the original lyrics (changed later for future releases), the film still managed to garner three Academy Award nominations for Best Songs/Score and won two. Aladdin opened on Broadway (after a premiere in Seattle) on February 26, 2014, and is still currently running on the Great White Way. Nominated for five Tony Awards for the 2014 Season, it won Best Performance by a (Featured) Actor in a Musical for James Monroe Iglehart as the Genie.

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