It takes a genius of a Genie – the brilliant Trevor Dion Nicholas – summoned from a magic lamp to fully bring to life Casey Nicholaw's lavish Broadway production of Aladdin (Prince Edward Theatre) adapted from the 1992 Disney animated film.
The action is set in the fabled city of Agrabah, which we are told has more glitz and glamour than any other fictional city in the world!
Homeless street urchin Aladdin finds his path crossing with royalty when he falls for princess Jasmine. But the Princess's Sultan father is trying to marry her off to a prince. However, with the assistance of the aforementioned Genie, the couple manage to hop aboard a magic flying carpet. This, though, is not the end of the fairytale romance as evil vizier Jafar enters with designs on Jasmine and is determined to acquire the magic lamp to accomplish them.
It is hard to escape the feeling during the first 20 minutes or so that this is a rather lacklustre pantomime and should not be opening in June. But with the arrival of the Genie, the show really takes off and we are treated to some spectacular dance routines (choreography by Casey Nicholaw) with the girls shimmying and swaying in skimpy costumes not to mention breathtaking special effects – the flying carpet really does fly through the air with no wires visible – and deliberately groan-inducing puns.
Bob Crowley, the designer, has created a composite Middle East of rotating minarets and latticed palaces, while Aladdin's cave positively drips gold and real fireballs are set hurtling across the stage.
Alan Menken's irresistibly tuneful score with lyrics by the late Howard Ashman and Tim Rice is beautifully rendered under the musical direction of Alan Williams, the standout romantic number being A Whole New World.
But the show really belongs to Trevor Dion Nicholas as the charismatic, warm and very funny Genie. Twirling upwards from a trapdoor, he commands the stage, delivering the big numbers Prince Ali and Friend Like Me with great aplomb. Indeed, the big showstopper Friend Like Me, a jazzy riot of infectious brio and great showmanship, really hits the jackpot, Dean John Wilson is a likeable, rough-hewn Aladdin, while Jade Ewen, formerly of The Sugababes, as the plucky Jasmine has a voice whose power belies her tiny frame and with it comes plenty of rebellious attitude at her father the Sultan. Don Gallagher oozes menace as the scheming villain Jafar who hatches evil plans with his little finger crooked
This then is a glittering musical extravaganza that provides great entertainment for the whole family.
Runs until Saturday 11 February 2017 at the Prince Edward Theatre
Box office: 0844 482 5151
Photographer Deen van Meer © DisneyLast modified: April 6, 2021