One of the main reasons we went to New York City was to see Disney's newest Broadway play, Aladdin. The last time we were in the city, we saw The Lion King and Mary Poppins. I know what Disney can do with a stage so I was very excited to see what they would do to the Aladdin movie.
For those of you that haven't seen the movie, Aladdin is the story of a poor street rat who rubs a magic lamp and becomes a master to a genie. He uses the genie's powers to help him win the heart of the kingdom's princess. Meanwhile, the Sultan's royal vizier is trying to get rid of Aladdin and the princess so he can take over Agrabah.
When the movie was first scripted, there were more characters. Aladdin had a couple of friends and his mother had recently died. Due to time constraints, those characters were cut. Aladdin's only friend (before Genie) was a pet monkey named Abu. The musical does cut out Abu (and Raja, for obvious reasons) but brings back the three friends and the parental storyline. With these changes came the reinsertion of a couple of songs that were cut from the movie. If you had the 1994 CD release The Music Behind The Magic, you will recognize the new songs.
The musical is absolutely amazing. Despite having a fairly small cast, they are able to bring so many different characters to life. (Let's put it this way: The 21-member ensemble actually brings the entire parade into the castle during "Prince Ali." So. Many. Quick. Costume. Changes. It is mind-boggling.) Adam Jacobs, who plays Aladdin, is adorable. Not only does he bring the non-threatening wittiness of the character to life, he also has a wonderful singing voice. He did not disappoint with "Proud of Your Boy." Courtney Reed also did a good job with Jasmine. Unfortunately, she isn't really the highlight of the show. She is very pretty and has a lovely voice but it seems like she doesn't spend a whole lot of time on stage. The evil Jafar is played by Jonathan Freeman, who also voiced the character in the animated movie. Much like Jasmine, he was good and it was awesome to hear the voice we all know coming out of Jafar's face but he still seemed lacking somehow.
I think the reason everyone else seemed so small is that the Genie has such a huge stage presence. James Monroe Iglehart plays our beloved Genie and he is amazing. He is somehow able to bring Robin William's manicness into reality. During "Friend Like Me," he slips in a few verses from "Beauty and the Beast," "Under The Sea," "Colors of The Wind," and a few more. I was just stunned how easily he moved between all of the songs. He has been nominated for a Tony, which he richly deserves to win.
If you can get to New York City to see the show, please do. You will not be disappointed. You will be awed, you will laugh your pants off, and you will be left wondering how the magic carpet actually flew. But you will definitely not be disappointed.