It has been so long that I laughed so hard I cried, stopped analyzing the show for my latest review or was thoroughly entertained. Forget about what you thought about Disney, because Aladdin, the new musical at the New Amsterdam Theater is smart, witty, intelligent and irreverent thanks to the Disney film writers Ron Clements, John Musker, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio and the adapted book writer Chad Beguelin. This is a show the whole world will enjoy including the cynical adults, though they may be grudging to admit it. It is lush with colorful baubles, bangles and beads that will have any Arabian Night fan feeling like they landed in Kismet with the adorable storybook sets by Bob Crowley that light with a million stars by Natasha Katz. The flying carpet by Jim Steinmeyer is a masterpiece in illusion as Aladdin just entered Back to the Future with the hoverboard. I seriously want to fly on that marvel and he didn’t have to remove ten rows of premium seats to accomplish the ah factor.
There are several award-worthy performances here but hands down James Monroe Iglehart matching Robin Williams’ hilariously manic performance as the Genie, snuffs out any Tony competitors in sight. The question is will they put him in the Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor category. Personally I hope it is in the first one as Don Darryl Rivera as Iago is also superbly amusing. Iglehart stops the show with the eight-minute version of “A Friend Like Me.” With his karaoke mash-up Disney melody, West Side Story spoof, lampooning of Oprah, Let’s Make a Deal, 42nd Street and so many others, it’s like a speed dial blast from the past.
The music by Alan Menken; lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice are still singable and the new ones with Beguelin are just as familiar with a feeling of home.
Aladdin: New Amsterdam Theater, 214 West 42nd Street