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Aladdin Delivers All Three Wishes

Aladdin Delivers All Three Wishes

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.

Adam Jacobs, Aladdin Courtney Reed

Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed

Aladdin gives us back the musical of our youth with real singing, dancing, comedy and romance, where we left the theatre feeling satisfied, humming the tunes and didn’t want to slit our wrists. Director-choreographer Casey Nickolaw (The Book of Mormon) brings back the tried and true Broadway song-and-dance format just like one of the road show movies with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour. He does it without reinventing the wheel and forcing a politically correct agenda down our throats.

 James Monroe Iglehart, AladdinThere 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.

Jonathan Freeman, Aladdin,Don Darryl Rivera

Jonathan Freeman and Don Darryl Rivera

The story is pretty much the same as the movie: street urchin, Aladdin (an appealing Adam Jacobs) steals to live, meets a runaway princess, Jasmine (the serviceable Courtney Reed) who wants to marry for love not duty. Instant romance as an extremely young child in the audience yelled, “you go.” Jasmine’s father, the Sultan (Clifton Davis) does not see the evil in his advisor, Jafar (Jonathan Freeman reprising his role from the movie), whose sidekick Iago (Don Darryl Rivera) has turned from parrot (movie) into a mini me of the Muttley kind (think Dastardly). Aladdin’s monkey has been turned into three comic sidekicks (the terrific Jonathan Schwartz, Brandon O’Neill and Brian Gonzales) who sing, dance and wield swords and of course there is a happy ending.

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.

For my last wish I want to go shopping on that stage for my next body, but with my luck I would end up with the Genie or Iago. Oh well everything, can’t be fabulously wonderful.

Aladdin: New Amsterdam Theater, 214 West 42nd Street

Broadway

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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