Live action performances of beloved movies can be hit or miss. With the Disney’s Aladdin, now playing at the Academy of Music through July 1st, it’s a hit; you’re in for a wonderful two hours full of fun and familiar tunes, laughs, and surprises.
The musical is based on the 1992 animated film and stays true to the cartoon with a few updates and changes. The show opens with the genie, who steals this scene and every scene he appears, and with a whirl of bright colors, toe-tapping tunes and high energy the thrill of the show begins. All of the favorite tunes from the movie are still in the show. New songs and characters have been added and we found ourselves singing and dancing in our seats.
One of the biggest changes from the film is the replacement of the animal sidekicks with human sidekicks. Aladdin’s monkey sidekick, Abu, has been updated with a trio of friends. Jasmine’s confidant, the tiger Rajah, is replaced by a trio of handmaidens. Even Jafar’s companion Iago is now a human toady instead of a smart mouthed bird. Aladdin’s friends add comic relief and act as his sounding board for the schemes and plots to Aladdin creates in an attempt to make his ancestors’ proud. While it makes sense to create human friends instead of having animal companions, human companions takes away the feeling of desperation and isolation Jasmine and Aladdin seemed to have had in the cartoon which lead them to seek adventure. (This is totally a Rachee nitpick.)
The night we saw the play there were a couple of production problems which caused two interruptions of the performance. These aside, the show is magical…singing and dancing and the overall message to be yourself is still there.
Discover a whole new world at Aladdin, the hit Broadway musical. Disney’s Aladdin is playing at the Academy of Music, located at 240 South Broad Street in Philadelphia, now through July 1. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Kimmel Center box office.
Photographs courtesy of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.