As a ‘90s kid I watched Disney animated films to my heart’s desire. From Bambi and Pinocchio to Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, my weekends were full of Disney movie marathons. But nothing compared to Aladdin, and when I found out Disney was turning it into a musical in 2011 – Broadway debut in 2014 – the musical theatre geek inside me went crazy. Being able to actually witness the magic that is the Cave of Wonders in Agrabah excited me.
Fast forward six years later. Disney’s Aladdin – and the great city of Agrabah – has landed at the SHN Orpheum Theatre. While you’ll see the classic marketplace and the sequin and gold-filled city of Agrabah replicated on stage, you may notice a few characters that are missing: Abu (Aladdin’s monkey), Rajah (Jasmine’s tiger) and Iago (Jafar’s parrot). However, they are replaced by Aladdin’s three best friends Kassim, Omar and Babkak, Jasmine’s three attendants and instead of a parrot, Iago is actually Jafar’s human sidekick in the show. These new characters truly elevate the stage show with their storylines and singing and dancing. The show is also different than the movie featuring the three songs that were cut from the 1992 film and an additional four that were written by Alan Menken (he wrote the score for the movie and stage production) for the musical.
Now onto the classic characters from the film we all know. Genie, played by Anthony Murphy, steals the show incorporating aspects of Robin Williams’ classic character in the movie, while also making it his own by adding bits of modern day pop culture to his flair. Not only is he Genie, but a fabulous MC. Jafar’s (Jonathan Weir) villainous character comes to life on stage. You truly love to hate the guy, while Iago, played by Reggie De Leon, taps into Gilbert Gottfried’s portrayal (he voiced the parrot in the 1992 film), and enhances those annoying parrotty acts so they are shown flawlessly to a live audience. Aladdin, played by Adam Jacobs (fun fact: he was the original Aladdin on Broadway!) and Jasmine (Isabelle McCalla) truly capture the essence of the characters we fell in love with in the 1992 film, but elevating their personalities so any member of the audience can relate to them. The music (including those you will recognize from the film), dancing, sets, costumes and authenticity of this show is one you have to see in person to truly enjoy and appreciate Disney’s Aladdin on a whole new level.
But the real question is “what about the magic carpet?” Oh, it’s there. You’ll just have to see the show to see how…
IF YOU GO
When: Now through January 7, 2018
Where: SHN Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market Street in San Francisco
Age recommendation: Disney on Broadway performances are recommended for a general audience. As an advisory to adults who might bring young people, Disney recommends its productions for ages 6 and up. No children under 5 allowed.