I thought I’d never live to see a bus-and-truck (lowest denomination road company) musical production on Broadway, but I just saw “Aladdin” and yes, ladies and gentle-persons, it ALREADY looks like it’s touring the sticks. Ugh.
I can’t believe I’m saying this but it’s Disney who has set its’own bar very, very high. You can’t just put a dud like “Aladdin” on Broadway and put the word Disney on it and expect the multitudes to throng in. Or maybe you can.
I kept thinking “Oh No! They’re NOT going to do that??” and then by gum they did it.
And I LOVED the movie. It was one of Disney’s sweetest cartoons, and Robin Williams’ voicing the genie, is sorely missed. It was the most original of creations. The magic carpet was a character. Jafar the Evil Brassiere, I mean, Vizer, had a monkey not a retard for a pet. And the monkey was voiced by the annoying Gilbert Gottfried. I even missed him! This is so bad and no, you just CAN NOT replicate the magic on stage, easily.
Easy, or rather cheesy, is the word for this production. The sets, the over-bedangled costumes. The over-choreographed choreography, if there is such a thing.
Director Casey Nicholaw, who wowed us with “Book of Mormon,” seems here to have lost all his talent, or left it with the Mormons. He’s done serious damage to his reputation with “Aladdin”, and no, you can’t make a wish and take all this back, and do it over. But he should. He’s let the genie out of the lamp and you can’t put him back in.
Especially the large-and-in-charge James Monroe Iglehart as the Genie, who huffs and puffs his way through his big number(And I mean, BIG) “A Friend Like Me” to such an extent I feared for his health. He looked like he was in cardiac arrest. He was having to a heart attack to get a standing ovation in the middle of the first act. Which he got, by about six or seven scattered people, who seem to have THOUGHT they should do it, because they’ve read that it happened before. I wanted to call an ambulance. if not for him, then for me. Yes, I said it was a painful experience to sit through. As in chest pain.
I mean, girls were squealing. Little kids were, too. Just like they did at “Newsies” a show which “Aladdin” resembles in tone and format. OLD FASHIONED. But “Newsies” had a better choreographer, so the dances were always innovative and snappy. NOT SAPPY, like they are here.
A LOT of dancing, isn’t necessarily GOOD dancing. It aspired to Bollywood. But Bollywood does this way better every time.
Adam Jacobs as Aladdin is almost the only saving grace of this painful experience. And they HAVE kept the original voice of the Evil Jafar, Jonathan Freeman, thank goodness! He’s reveling in his misdoings so much, I thought it was the great Peter Bartlett. But no, fear. It’s Disney, so this show is guaranteed to run at least long enough for Bartlett to replace him, when HE has a cardiac. Freeman, I mean, not Bartlett.I feared for his health too. It’s THAT kind of musical. It’s so over-done the cast seems literally to be killing themselves, because they have to work double over-time to hide the fact that THERE’S NOTHING THERE!
This show was so bad, so lacking in imagination I felt for the late lyricist Howard Ashman, who created the magical, moving movie cartoon “Aladdin” in the first place, and wrote the lyrics to the songs that have wisely been retained for this cartoon of a stage version. I felt like he was turning over in his grave.
And I felt sorry to for Alan Menken,too, the composer, who is still very much in the land of the living. Although “Aladdin” is just D.O.A. Dead. Dead. Dead.
Disney better be tuning up “Frozen”, and I’m sure they are.
I say Bring On Adele Dazeem!