The Reviews Hub Score
One Jump Ahead!
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Howard Ashman, Tim Rice & Chad Beguelin
Director: Casey Nicholaw
Arriving in the West End in 2011, after a hugely successful residency on Broadway, the magical production of Aladdin has now embarked on an extensive tour of the UK. Disney are once again bringing magic to the masses and this production is ‘A Million Miles’ more brilliant than could even be expected. Containing songs from the original musical score and a handful of new favourites, it is a treat for the whole family.
Not deviating too much from the original storyline, this production has been subtly tweaked. Opening in the market place ,Aladdin, rather unsurprisingly, finds himself in trouble. Recognising his close shave with the law, he is desperate to make his heavenly parents ‘proud’. Making a snap decision to clean up his act, he and his friends Babkak, Omar and Kassim become street performers. Coincidentally, much to the plot’s benefit, his first performance introduces him to the disguised Princess Jasmine. From there, with the help of a genie, his life’s adventure begins.
The irresistible appeal of this production lies in its undeniable vitality – there is no moment where the audience isn’t wholly entertained. It’s a performance that openly embraces its own absurdity and gradually become even more daring. The jokes are occasionally a little panto-esque but these don’t seem to detract from the audience’s experience; from the guffawing gentleman on my left to the giggling child on my right, there was a laugh for everyone. The fantastic creations by Bob Crowley – notably the expansive panoramas and extremely colourful props – take the auditorium on a mood-boosting journey to Agrabah. The Cave of Wonders was exactly that, a majestic example of set curation and something worthy of a standing ovation in its own right. Equally memorable were Jim Steinmeyer’s enchanting illusions and stage magic which allowed a carpet to soar through a sky illuminated by twinkling starlight.
The performers were simply stupendous. Aladdin, played by Gavin Adams, was perfectly cast in this role. He made easy work of his solos, especially ‘Proud of Your Boy’ and was the perfect balance of loveable and rogue. Adam Strong as Jafar reached the pinnacle of Disney villain-hood – despite his brilliance he managed to convince the audience to dislike him and was regularly booed on entrance. His sidekick Angelo Paragoso (Iago) was the perfect personification of a parrot. The ensemble had great depth and brought to life numbers such as ‘Arabian Nights’ and ‘Prince Ali’. However, it was Yeukayi Ushe in the role of Genie that stole the show. His performance was truly magnificent. Iconic numbers, including ‘Friend Like Me’ required not only a big voice and personality but a serious presence and he is a prime example of a triple threat.
This production is ‘One Jump Ahead’ of the others in its category. Disney have, yet again, come up trumps. Aladdin’s glitz, glamour and pizzazz is undeniably feel-good. This really is the perfect solution to our cold January nights – go ahead, book a ticket, you’ll definitely not regret it.
Running Until: 11th February 2023