In June 2016, a classic rendition of Disney’s Aladdin started playing at the Prince Edward Theater. A classic story of two people in love, Aladdin, a poor boy in the marketplace, meets Jasmine, a princess in disguise. He does whatever he can to win her hand but is caught in a tricky balance between the truth and what he wants.
The main characters are Aladdin and Jasmine, and these two roles changed a bit from the movie, adding more character. Jasmine became more independent in the musical. She was more active, trying to get herself more rights. She repeatedly asked why the women couldn’t do the same things that men could do. Aladdin also seemed to have more realistic problems, singing songs such as “Proud of Your Boy,” in which he tells his non-existent mom that he’ll make her proud. This can be relatable to a lot of children who also want to make their parents proud.
The genie is definitely the most unforgettable character. What’s not to love? He can perform magic, has a winning personality, and sings some great songs. He’s the only character who addresses the audience directly. He also appeared as a comedian, creating tons of laughter. However, he didn’t seem to move around the stage like other characters. He walked around but didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Not as much seemed to be happening to him while he sang, so he had to rely on his words to interest the audience.
Many of the supporting animal characters are different in the play. In the Disney movie of Aladdin, one of the featured characters is Abu, Aladdin’s mischievous monkey friend. Abu was not in this version of Aladdin. Instead, Aladdin has three close friends, who encourage him and develop his character even more than Abu would. They’re comic, and they make light of many situations.
The tiger, Rajah, who was friends with Princess Jasmine in the movie also disappeared. In his place are three ladies who encourage Jasmine. Jafar’s ally, the parrot, was also replaced. Instead of having a parrot who repeated his words, there was a man who repeated his words. He also added more humor to the scene, doing stereotypical “bad guy laughs” and walking around in a certain manner. These changes in character caused the play to have more depth than the movie, but the animal friends were sorely missed.
Even though changing some of the characters disrupted the plot of the play, all of the most well-known songs from the screen still made it onto the stage. Once you arrived at the theater you were a part of the “Arabian Nights,” and stepped into “A Whole New World.” There were also more catchy tunes that weren’t as big in the movie, such as “One Jump Ahead” and “Diamond in the Rough.” Some songs, such as “Prince Ali” and “Friend Like Me,” were enhanced by all of the costumes and props used.
There were many costumes, and the sets weren’t cheap either. The Cave of Wonders was full of gold. When “Friend Like Me” was performed, a slew of waiters and dancers ran on the stage, each brandishing food that seemed to appear out of nowhere. During the first song of act II, Prince Ali was part of a parade of people coming through doors. The people never seemed to stop coming, and they each had their own act. The costumes were phenomenal, and they really seemed to transport the viewer to Arabia with bright colors and patterns.
A live orchestra played in the Prince Edward Theater. The music was loud which set the scene even more, but, sometimes it was too loud. There was more than one moment when the person who was talking on stage was drowned out or was too soft. The orchestra could have been too loud, but there also could’ve been a microphone problem.
The bright purple screen outside of the Prince Edward Theater is visible from blocks away, and it has a small reception area with a ticket booth and a merchandise stand. The theater sits 1,650 people, and food and drink are allowed inside. Many people were channeling their inner Aladdin and singing along to the sound track, although that disturbed others who were trying to listen.
Overall, Aladdin was a hit, but the plot was a bit rocky. Some parts of the plot were odd, but that was because the movie plot was slightly different and the musical was adapted with different characters and a different level of what can happen on the stage. Aladdin is worth seeing, if not for the songs, for the amazing sets and costumes.
The show started running on June 15, 2016. It ends on April 1, 2017.
Run time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Tickets: from £17.50
Monday – 7.30 PM
Tuesday – 7.30 PM
Wednesday – 7.30 PM
Thursday – 2.30 PM, 7.30 PM
Friday – 7.30 PM
Saturday – 2.30 PM, 7.30 PM
Sunday – no performances