Theatre Review by Tim Corpus
3 stars out of 4
Tale as old as – well, for most of us 1992. Aladdin is adapted from the classic Academy Award®-winning animated Disney film and centuries-old folktales including “One Thousand and One Nights.” It’s not exactly the same story you know, but it’s the Aladdin you know. It’s the story of the riff-raff street rat who dreams to be more. This thief with a heart-of-gold falls in love with a princess who dares to be more than just a princess. In order to woo the defiant princess, Aladdin receives help from the magical Genie. Yes, it’s basically the same story from the ’92 original, but it’s blended with original music for the stage by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Chad Beguelin.
Aladdin, as portrayed by the dashing Adam Jacobs, has more of a backstory, motivation and a bit of baggage. Mr. Jacobs originated the role in 2014 on Broadway and fills the role perfectly. His charisma and performance is matched only by that of the Genie, played by Anthony Murphy. Mr. Murphy’s portrayal of the Genie is fresh, and very funny. Every time the Genie is on stage he steals the show. He is fortunate that his signature song, “Friend Like Me,” is combined with an absolutely outstanding display of light and sound. The spectacle produced by scenic designer Bob Crowley and lighting designer Natasha Katz is extravagant. The lush designs and sophisticated illusions are reason enough to see the show. The performances and production make hilarious excuses for Disney montages, tap dance numbers and kicklines.
Aladdin is supposed to be a spectacle. Audiences attend a show like this because they want to see magic. In their pursuit of “A Whole New World”, Jasmine and Aladdin’s romantic carpet ride is impressive. Jasmine is played by newcomer Isabelle McCalla and has a good chemistry with Jacobs. Their duet amid the air is beautifully placed and beautifully sung, although the underscoring leaves something more to be desired. The smaller numbers, though thoroughly performed, don’t compare to the extravagance of the ensemble performances. What the show lacks in quiet sentimental moments, it makes up for with humor. Local Chicagoan Jonathan Weir brings to life the villain Jafar with dry-wit and a great sense of comedic timing. The big bad villain has good banter with his side-kick and overly violent Iago, played by Reggie de Leon.
The shows’ dazzle would not be possible without Gregg Barnes fantastic 337 costumes. The costume changes alone seem like magic. It’s the ability to surprise and mesmerize that are the shows’ strength.
Overall, Aladdin is the fun-filled folktale from your childhood and it’s worth the laughs. The performance runs for a limited engagement at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph Street) through September 10, 2017. Tickets range from $44 - $153 and can be purchased at all Broadway in Chicago Box Offices, the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com. A select number of Premium Ticket Packages, which include a prime seat location, a commemorative souvenir program and an exclusive merchandise item, are also available for many performances. For a complete performance schedule for Aladdin, please visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.