Broadway Review - Aladdin

MegaSoulhero Time for my second Broadway Musical review. Keep in mind, these aren’t gonna be as often as my movie reviews. Musicals are more expensive and aren’t as frequent. So I can’t be expected to watch them on a regular basis. Unless I can find a bootleg. Anyway, Aladdin is one of my favorite Disney movies. I love the movie so much and I really loved the show at California Adventure. So I was excited when I found out that it got its own Broadway show. When it came to the Pantages, I decided to go to it. What did I think of it? It was okay.

Yeah, this was pretty disappointing to some extent. I went in with high expectations since I’m a huge Aladdin fan and a lot of people have said this musical was amazing. So why didn’t I like it as much as everyone else did? Well first of all, it starts out with unnecessarily long intro music. It sounds nice, but it goes on for too long. Then the curtain gets pulled down to reveal Michael James Scott as the merchant. Who also plays the Genie in this show. This I actually liked because in the movie, Robin Williams voiced both the merchant and the Genie. It was also confirmed that the Genie IS the merchant. So I thought it was neat that decided to do the same thing for this production. The merchant talks about Agrabah then pulls out a magic lamp. There’s this funny joke in which he pulls out an Oscar award at first. Because this was in Los Angeles. I’m guessing they slightly change this joke depending on which city they perform at. This leads into the Arabian Nights musical number. Which is admittedly a great musical number and a great way to start the show. The dancers do a really great job. What ruins this scene, however, is the fact that they introduce the main characters in this scene! They literally have Jafar, Iago, Aladdin, and Jasmine come out on stage, have them do absolutely nothing, and then they walk off. It makes their introductions later on in the show feel less impactful! And they way they did it felt very lazy! After that, they do the One Jump song. By the way, Abu isn’t in this show. Instead, he was replaced by three human characters. I don’t remember their names. They are absolutely annoying! Their whole gimmick is that they act like even dumber versions of the Three Stooges! The One Jump scene is pretty cool and I like some of the designs. I just want to point out that the guards are basically the stormtroopers of this show. They keep trying to slice Aladdin, but they keep missing. It doesn’t even look like they’re trying! The fighting choreography is very poorly done. I like that they tell us that Aladdin doesn’t like being a theif and that he just wants to make his mother proud. After that, a prince who’s on his way to Jasmine’s palace tells Aladdin that his family would be disappointed in him. Which leads to the first of many forgettable songs. These new songs were also written by Alan Menken. So I don’t know why they don’t have the same impact as the ones that were in the movie. I will admit though. Adam Jacobs is a great singer. He was a perfect choice for Aladdin.

Can’t say the same for Courtney Reed as Jasmine, though. I’m not sure if it’s just the way she was written, but she acts like such a whiny teenager! Even more than in the actual movie! At least she delivers the best line in the show. “Why can’t a woman run the kingdom?” That line actually caused everyone in the theater to cheer. After the Sultan tells her that she needs to find a suitor, she goes to her room and sings a very girly song that kind of reminds me of that one song from Mulan 2. Courtney isn’t a bad singer, but she takes a breath way too much in the middle of songs. Jafar and Iago then try to figure out how to access the Cave of Wonders. They definitely did a great job with Jafar in this production, but Iago is straight up annoying. And he’s a human instead of a bird. Did the people who made this show have something against animals? By the way, as good as some of the backdrops and props look, this scene looks very lazy. All we see is a book on a podium and a dark green backdrop. This was very uncreative. It was cool how they projected smoke on the background, though. Then Aladdin and his friends try to make money by entertaining people, we get a funny 4th wall joke, then they start singing and dancing. This scene adds absolutely nothing. Except that it causes Aladdin to meet Jasmine. She accidentally steals food and they end up running away to Aladdin’s hideout. I really love this scene since Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed have really great chemistry. I guess that’s because they’ve been doing this production long enough to the point where it feels natural. They are the original Broadway Aladdin and Jasmine after all. Even the song they sing in this scene is really nice. It’s about how they are unhappy with their lives and they just want to run away from it all. Unfortunately, the guards catch up to them, Jasmine reveals she’s the princess, gets taken back to her palace, and Aladdin gets sentenced to death. Lucky for him, Jafar comes in and pretends to be Aladdin’s uncle. It was at this point when I felt like the creators of this production watch the California Adventure show because this is almost exactly the same thing that happened in that show. Except Jafar pretended to be his father. And of course Jafar only saves him because he’s the diamond in the rough. When I found out that Jafar gets his own song in this show, I was really happy. It’s too bad that the song absolutely sucks!

We see the Cave of Wonders, which actually looks really cool, and Aladdin goes in. If you saw the movie, you know what happens. Aladdin grabs the lamp, gets trapped in the cave, then rubs it which reveals the Genie. From what I know, they made a few technical changes to the show for the touring version. Instead of the Genie appearing from underneath the stage, he appears on top of something. Which makes sense since it’s not like they can install stage lifts for each city they go to. Now feels like a good time to talk about Michael James Scott. He’s no Robin Williams, but he really sells this role. He’s easily the most enjoyable thing about the musical. He’s funny, energetic, a great singer, and very likeable. He’s everything that the Genie should be. He even gets the best musical number in the entire show. I was blown away by how amazing the Friend Like Me scene was! They even included fireworks which I wasn’t expecting! I’d say that this scene alone was worth the price of admission! After that, Genie frees Aladdin from the Cave. Then he turns Aladdin into a prince. I’m actually curious as to how they do this. How did he put that outfit on so fast? This next line that Genie says kind of angered me a little bit. He says that he might give him a magic carpet. The Magic Carpet was one of my favorite characters in the movie. It’s not even a character in this show! It’s just an object! It only appears a couple of times. I was really disappointed by that. The next musical number, Prince Ali, I felt was very dumb. The scene is very similar to the Arabian Nights musical number in which Michael James Scott is the lead singer while the ensemble dances around with props. But the problem I have is that they’re making the song about them and not about Prince Ali. He doesn’t appear until the end of the song. At least in California Adventure, they had him riding on an elephant while the song was going on. Sometimes I feel like this show tries too hard to be this grand Broadway production that it forgets to have certain scenes make sense. Jasmine rejects Aladdin, then Aladdin says that he doesn’t need his friends anymore after arguing with them. This is pretty much only done to build up to a later scene. Other than that, it’s pretty pointless.

Aladdin enters Jasmine’s room, then we get the worst magic carpet scene ever! This is supposed to be the big moment! The scene that everyone talks about! But they made it so underwhelming! It’s literally just Aladdin and Jasmine flying on a carpet with a giant moon behind them, surrounded by a bunch of stars! The thing I loved about the scene in the movie was that Aladdin was showing Jasmine pretty much the whole world. They don’t give that impression here! There’s no landmarks shown! They didn’t make it look like they were going anywhere! Sure the moon turns into the Earth at one point, but it just makes it look like they flew into outer space. This is such a waste of technology! The flying carpet effect looks really great. It’s too bad this scene wasn’t as grand as it should’ve been. Plus, Courtney kept on struggling with those high notes. After that, Aladdin gets captured and one of his friends sees it happen. So they decide to forgive Aladdin and go on an adventure to save him. I must admit. This scene was very funny. Even the guards have funny moments. Unfortunately, the sword fighting was poorly done. The three guys get captured, but lucky for them, Aladdin uses his lamp to summon the Genie. Then they sing what is literally the most pointless song in the show. It’s basically a stereotypical “best friends” kind of song. Why did it need to be included? Aladdin and his get freed and Jasmine tells her dad that she wants to marry Ali. Jafar gets the lamp, and sabotages the wedding. The entire climax was pretty lame. All it is is Jafar going through wardrobe quick changes while just standing on a set piece. He doesn’t do anything other than that. He doesn’t even turn into a snake. It’s like they spent most of their budget on the rest of the show that they couldn’t make this scene as exciting. And he gets sucked into the lamp way too quickly. Even DCA’s version of this scene was longer! I know I keep comparing this show to the DCA one, but I’m just trying to show that a theme park production is better than a Broadway production. I like how in this one, it actually ends with Aladdin and Jasmine getting married. They didn’t get married in the movie. They waited until the third movie. Anyway, Aladdin and Jasmine fly away on the carpet, I was able to see how they made it fly by the way, and that’s the end of the show.

For a Broadway production, this could’ve been a lot better. It’s not bad, but it’s not up there with The Lion King, Hamilton, Wicked (goes without saying), and Phantom of the Opera. There are changes to the story that I don’t agree with and some of the musical numbers aren’t very great. I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong. The scenery was nice, the effects were great, the acting was great, and there were certain musical numbers that I liked. This is a very okay show. I still kind of recommend it. I still really miss DCA‘s version.

Grade: C+