There’s never been a shortage of spectacle when Disney takes to Broadway, but the company that redefined the rules with “The Lion King,” “Beauty And The Beast” and many other memorable screen to stage adaptations has truly outdone itself with “Aladdin.” The sets are stunning, the costumes may be the most eye-catching the Great White Way has ever seen, while colors burst out of every astounding special effect and musical numbers glisten around the glitz and dazzling choreography.
And if the much more modest by comparison “Aladdin” movie could land as the highest-grossing film of 1992, expect this musical to shatter box office records thanks to a level of grandeur and imagination that truly has to be seen to be believed.
Even before “Aladdin” came to Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre, an extended block of tickets went on sale, and after catching opening night, it could very well stick around indefinitely. That’s because in addition to all the spectacular elements, this manifestation freshens up the universal tale of a “diamond in the rough” street rat named Aladdin (Adam Jacobs), the beautiful Princess Jasmine (Isabelle McCalla), their evil and conniving nemesis Jafar (Jonathan Weir), his goofy sidekick Iago (Reggie De Leon), and of course, the magical Genie (Anthony Murphy), whose ability to grant his master’s wishes takes everyone on a wild whirlwind of adventures and twists.
Most elements remain from the movie, though there are constant comical quips and cultural references from Cab Calloway to Christina Aguilera (because after all, who could resist a “Genie In A Bottle” joke?) Having the original Broadway actor in the title role is also a major asset, but the entire cast more than holds their own, making the most of the vibrant material and embracing the pageantry with just as much wonder as onlookers.
And rest assured, attendees of any age are sure to giggle right alongside Genie as he breaks the fourth wall in a monologue, marvel as Aladdin navigates his way through the Cave of Wonders or become equally awestruck as he and Jasmine take an aerial ride courtesy of Carpet. It’s also easy to quickly loose count with 337 consumes, be blinded by the nearly 9,000 rhinestones adorning each male actor’s “Friend Like Me” outfit and wonder how in the world Jasmine can wear a wedding dress that weighs 12 pounds with such poise!
It’s “A Whole New World” indeed as the animation leaps to life, right on up to 38 tons of flying scenery and pyrotechnics, but at the end of the almost two-and-a-half-hours that breeze by in a blink, the message of true love trumping social class and royalty status would be just as timeless without a single prop. And if the much more modest by comparison “Aladdin” movie could land as the highest-grossing film of 1992, expect this musical to shatter box office records thanks to a level of grandeur and imagination that truly has to be seen to be believed.