(Seen at the preview performance on 13th June 2016).
If Walt Disney himself had devoted his talents to creating musical theatre, this
would have been the result. Quite simply the biggest, brightest, most
spectacular family musical the West End has seen in many years, if indeed, ever.
If certain other shows had this much attention to story, staging and production
values, they would have lasted far longer.
This show is SENSATIONAL in every respect. There’s something for absolutely
everybody aged around 7 and over. A crystal clear, cracking story hanging on
magical threads, with a host of zingy one-liners to spare.
Every vibrant character sparkles – those costumes alone do that, but as this
show says, ‘it’s what’s inside that counts even more.”
You really will never have a friend like Genie (Trevor Dion Nicholas - pictured
above, whose Olivier Award will surely soon join his wife’s Tony Award that was
won the night before the monkey saw the show).
Aladdin (Dean John-Wilson) and his gang (who replace monkey Abu – who gets a
little tribute here) Babkak (Nathan Amzi), Kassim (Stephen-Rahman Hughes) and
Omar (Rachid Sabitri) are a comedy team of the first order, with more depth as
required. (all pictured, above).
Evil duo Jafar (Don Gallagher) and Iago (Peter Howe) go even further, a team
right along their misguided way to thwart the course of truth and love...
For the ladies, Princess Jasmine (Jade Ewen) is every bit the modern, liberated
Disney Princess, with a voice and stage presence that doesn’t just have Aladdin,
quite rightly, enthralled. Her own retinue (Sadie-Jean Shirley, Marsha Songcome
and Michelle Chantelle Hopewell) are equally engaging. (all pictured, above).
So the story goes, with terrific tunes familiar from the film, and others (once
cut from it) restored or newly written. “Proud of Your Boy” and “High Adventure”
are the best of the new material, but it is the familiar numbers that get the
most amazing treatment.
The monkey actually apologised to Disney Theatrical for denting the carpet in
front of its seat, twice, as its jaw hit the floor with considerable force.
“Friend Like Me” is the first actual “show stopping” moment it has witnessed
since “Top Hat,” and “A Whole New World” had the monkey gasping for breath at
something it has never seen achieved on a stage before.
The minor details are just as wonderful. Some lovely special effects,
‘in-jokes’ and old-fashioned showmanship – complete with ‘front cloth’ fooling
as the next scene is set up behind – combine the very best of modern technique
and a dash of ‘theme park magic’ know-how to show us wonders indeed.
It really is a show suitable for absolutely everybody, clean, hilarious
humour, romance, colours beyond counting and a brightness to lift the darkest
soul. Perfect for a first date, celebration, treat or simply for the sheer
pleasure of seeing it. With ticket prices what they are in London, this is one
show that is actually worth every single penny.
Six stars for this glittering Arabian Night.
Photograph credit: Deen Van Meer. Used by kind permission.