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THEATRE: Review of Aladdin at Prince Edward Theatre

THEATRE: Review of Aladdin at Prince Edward Theatre

Trevor Dion Nicholas as the Genie with the cast of Aladdin. Photo: Deen van Meer

ALADDIN at Prince Edward Theatre
Published: 16 June, 2016

THIS is a hard one to call: flabbily-edited and so slow to the boil, this stage musical of Disney’s cartoon Aladdin eventually explodes into life to be rescued by an individual standout performance and a lusciously lavish set.

Early on we are suffocated in our seats by endless routines in the marketplace to establish Aladdin (Dean John-Wilson)’s dancing good nature to poverty and a mix of dated songs which are meant to be dreamy ballads about ambition or toe-tapping set-pieces, but deaden the space behind your eyeballs.

If the songs don’t scar, the wisecracks might. Somehow the cheapy switcharoos manage to be too quick for the young Disney fans and simultaneously insulting to the wit of any­body old enough to tie a shoelace. Take the baddies, Jafar (Don Gallagher), stripped of all the menace found in the 1992 film, and his steadfastly annoying sidekick, Iago (Peter Howe). There were some obliging audience titters at their repartee but, as harsh as it may sound, let me make the plea that you, me, all of us collectively as theatre-goers, don’t feel we have to endorse the cheapest gags by filling the laughline silence with forced sniggers.  

It’s our duty to sit in stony silence at every mile-off punchline. It’s the only way they’ll learn. 

Yet while this may all sound curmudgeonly, Aladdin finds its clemency in a marvel of a set, sweeping us off to spectacular gold caves, ornate palaces and a magic carpet sky.

This shimmering playground is then illuminated by Trevor Dion Nicholas as the Genie, who, praise be, single-handedly cancels out all the negatives in the same way the late Robin Williams did with the movie. 

He leads an elastic 15-minute rush of song and dance close to the interval which needs to be seen to be believed.

To say more would spoil it, but here was a rare standing ovation before the ice creams.

As lively as the second half gets, it struggles to reach a similar high.

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