WASHINGTON, DC – For those in love with fantasy and adventure with a whole heap of razmatazz, Disney’s “Aladdin” sits at the pinnacle of Broadway extravaganzas. There hasn’t been a production with more glitter, more sequins, more light-reflecting crystal beads, bolts of diaphanous chiffon, and soaring feathered turbans (What’s the plural of fez?) since the Ziegfeld Follies! The pyrotechnics and flashy projections alone make this a must-see. It’s all glitz and glamour set in an exotic imaginary city somewhere in Arabia.
Everything you might expect from a showstopper is all here in eye-popping splendor, thanks to multiple Tony Award-winning Set Designer Bob Crowley. Moorish minarets loom over sword-wielding royal guardsmen and whirling dervishes as the handsome ne-er-do-well Aladdin (Adi Roy) encounters Princess Jasmine (Senzel Ahmady). Jasmine is determined to choose her own husband (She’s a liberated woman!) and experience life outside the stifling walls of the castle. To that end, she has fled the overly protective arms of her father, the Sultan (Sorab Wadia), and found her way to the marketplace among the commoners. Jasmine is one smart cookie and fiercely independent, taking no guff from the evil Grand Vizier, Jafar (Anand Nagraj) and his comic minion, Iago (Aaron Choi).
Aladdin and his pals Babkak (Jake Letts), Omar (Ben Chavez), and Kassim (Colt Prattes) live a life of petty thievery while Jasmine is trapped in a gilded cage. Nothing is easy in the kingdom of Agraba, but there’s a lot that’s hilarious. As Genie (played gloriously by Marcus M. Martin) explains in his in his usual wry tone, “Everyone here has zero body fat…” Except for Genie, who is a full-figured, jive-talking bundle of high-stepping, street-smart exuberance, able to nail a medley of Disney show tunes as readily as he can grant three wishes.
Drama and suspense are both present when Aladdin finds himself in the aurelian Cave of Wonders, having been sent by the wicked Jafar to fetch the Genie’s golden lamp. Predictably, it’s a set up as Jafar plans to do away with our hero and keep the lamp for his nefarious machinations.
But wait! Did I mention the magic carpet? Where would we be without a magic carpet to highlight Aladdin and Jasmine’s amorous vows to wed despite all odds? Traveling through the starry sky, the pair soar above the stage in a flight of fantasy and wonder, professing their love with one of the musical’s most memorable numbers, “A Whole New World.”
A splendiferous production! Highly recommended. Bring your kids. Bring all the kids in the neighborhood!
Music by Alan Menken; Lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Beguelin; Book by Chad Beguelin; Directed and Choreographed by Casey Nicholaw; Costume Designs by Gregg Barnes; Lighting Design by Natasha Katz; Music Director/Conductor James Dodgson; Orchestrations by Danny Troob; Sound Design by Ken Travis.
Through April 30th at the National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20004. For tickets and information visit www.TheNationalDC.com or call the box office at 202 628-6161.