Once again, Disney creates magic with it’s latest screen to stage adaptation, ALADDIN, the latest hit to take center stage at San Jose Center for Performing Arts by Broadway San Jose.
Many Disney movies have successfully made the transition to the stage. With stories that are familiar, fantastical and full of musical interludes, it seems almost easy to make the jump. The tricky part with ALADDIN is the fact that the role of the Genie played by Robin Williams was so iconic. Major Attaway so fantastically owns the role of the Genie with so much razzle-dazzle, glitz, charm, and humor…and I am here for it!
From the moment he takes the stage, the Genie enchants the crowd, introducing you Agrabah, a city of nobles, misfits and thieves. It is also home to the magic lamp, hidden deep within the Cave of Wonders, which only the “Diamond in the Rough”, the street rat Aladdin may enter.
Cue the curtain rise and behold a market scene, bustling with shoppers and the quick introduction to our hero, Aladdin (Clinton Greenspan), his band of friends Babkak, Omar and Kassim who very successfully add doses of humor and humility throughout the show. While Aladdin and his crew struggle to make ends meet in the marketplace, Princess Jasmine (Lissa deGuzman) struggles with happiness, feeling trapped in the palace under orders from her father to find a suitable prince to marry. Jasmine defies her father’s orders and journeys to the market where she meets Aladdin. Jasmine and Aladdin are immediately drawn to one another, connected by their sense of feeling trapped in their lives, but it is not meant to be.
After capturing Aladdin, the Sultan’s Grand Visier Japar (Jonathan Weir) puts his evil plan into motion. Jafar will trick Aladdin into retrieving the magic lamp so that he can be the Sultan. In the movie, Jafar has a bird, Iago as a comedic sidekick. Jay Paranada brings Iago to life in human form and is the perfect humorous companion to Jafar’s evil antics.
Every scene is a feast for the eyes. Seven-time Tony-winning scenic designer Bob Crowley’s sets, all 20 tons of them, were handcrafted by more than 350 people and it shows. Everything from the marketplace to the palace exudes the magic and splendor of Agrabah. Adding to the magnificence of each scene are the elaborate costumes. Tony award-winning Gregg Barnes created 337 costumes, which are changed out amongst the ~35 cast members through the show in such rapid succession that it will feel like the cast is much bigger.
Nothing demonstrates the culmination of the set design, costuming and commanding stage presence of Major Attaway as the stand out number “Friend Like Me”. It is indescribably staged magic.
ALADDIN may have originally been made as a children’s movie, but this production has something for children and adults alike. With lush sets, exquisite costuming, dazzling dance numbers, all-out special effects and songs chocked full of one-liners and pop culture references, adults and children alike are guaranteed to have a good time.
ALADDIN, presented by Broadway San Jose is playing now through April 21st. Tickets are available, priced from $33 – $118 at www.broadwaysanjose.com or at the box office located at the Center for Performing Arts (255 Almaden Blvd.) or by calling 800-982-ARTS (2787).