Review of 'Aladdin'


I really enjoyed the stage adaptation of the “Lion King” animated film so was looking forward to seeing Aladdin. Sadly, I was disappointed.

This musical tells the story of Aladdin (Matthew Croke), a boy living on the streets of the fictional Arabian city of Agrabah who meets and falls in love with Princess Jasmine (Jade Ewen) when she escapes one day from her sheltered and unsatisfying life in the palace to visit the market. Unfortunately, Jasmine has been told by her father the Sultan (Irvine Iqbal) she can only marry a Prince so it seems they will never be together. Jafar (Don Gallagher), the evil Grand Vizier plans to steal a lamp containing a Genie (Trevor Dion Nicholas) that will grant him three wishes however he needs a young innocent to retrieve it for him: Aladdin. When Aladdin finds the lamp he accidentally uncovers it's secret and the Genie is revealed promising the wishes though Aladdin hears the Genie's sad story of being a slave to the lamp and promises his last wish will free the Genie from his curse. Aladdin's first wish makes him a prince and takes him to the palace…but will he be able to win the hand of the princess and will he keep his promise to the Genie?

The highlight here is the performance of Nicholas as the Genie, a role which he played on Broadway however he only shows up towards the end of the first act. His antics and enthusiasm bring life to an otherwise, sadly, so far lacklustre show which seems to largely be on the hands of the actors playing the leading roles of Aladdin and Jasmine who seem to be largely “going by the numbers” and failing to bring any vibrancy to their performances. Ewen's voice seems strained as she attempts to duplicate the singing of a young child and ends up more grating then ingratiating. Croke does better with a clean and smooth though underwhelming performance. Both were “pitchy” according to my companion for the evening (who happens to be a singer). Gallagher has a fun role as Jafar which is very much a panto villain which he attacks with an aplomb but sadly is not on the stage very much. His companion Iago (Nick Cavaliere, in the movie a parrot but altered to a person for the stage-show) is a slapstick and silly affair that seldom elicits laughs from the audience.

The staging is simple and abstract but perfectly suited to several large dance numbers. The chase through the market near the beginning and the “Never Had a Friend” piece from when the Genie first emerges from the bottle in the cave are particular standouts for me. Wonderfully choreographed and breathtaking to watch, a lot of fun! The costumes throughout are dazzling with their vibrant colours. Despite being a lot about the magic of the Genie there is decidedly little on the stage but this is replaced by the sheer physical energy and exuberance of the Genie (humorously, at points in the show he is obviously winded and takes a few seconds to stop and catch his breath…I suspect this has the whiff of both performance AND reality).

The musical introduces some pieces to the show that were not in the original film but they simply cannot match “A Whole New World” and “Never Had a Friend”.

All of the components are here to make a good show: A fun story, fun characters, great costumes and some great music. Sadly, this is let down by lacklustre performances and a seemingly total reliance on the Genie. Unfortunately, he is only on the stage for about a third of the show so the other 2/3 are average at best. I have to say I am quite disappointed. Having said that, the kids will probably find it a lot of fun, for the adults they will just have to be satisfied with the Genie's tremendous performance, waiting out his next appearance on the stage.

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2018-01-22

Prince Edward Theatre

Location: London (England)

Address: Old Compton Street, London W1D 4HS ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Tottenham Court Road, TUBE Leicester Square

Telephone: +44 (0) 844 482 5151


Very ornate, though small, theatre in the heart of the west end just around the corner from the Palace Theatre just off of Charing Cross Road. The “Dress Circle Bar” has a terrace where you can look out onto the vibrant street-life of Old Compton Street. Often the space in the auditorium is somewhat cramped, for example, with the aisle between row E and F of the dress circle basically a row of seats with a bit more leg room (but not nearly enough) to allow people to walk by.