Aladdin, West End review: ‘A magical ride that unfolds in a kaleidoscope of colour’
PUBLISHED: 16:10 12 December 2018 | UPDATED: 16:23 12 December 2018
You ain’t ever seen a show like this, as pantomime classic Aladdin is given the West End treatment with an unforgettable score, dazzling costumes and a gravity-defying carpet.
Since Aladdin opened in the Prince Edward Theatre in 2016, I have been desperate to get tickets as I had heard all the rave reviews and have been a fan of the Disney classic since I played the genie in my year six production.
The show began with the genie, played by Trevor Dion Nicholas who was in the original Broadway run, who brought the performance to an explosive start and was dressed in a royal blue top, encrusted with gems and sequins, teamed with harem pants.
The genie addressed the audience and as the curtains opened to a busy market scene in the fictional city of Agrabah, he had them in the palm of his hand.
But make no mistake, this isn’t a pantomime – there is no Widow Twankey or chocolate money in sight and despite a few asides to the audience, this is an accomplished production that unfolds in a kaleidoscope of colour before your eyes.
The show, like the much-loved 1992 Disney film, follows street rat Aladdin, played by Matthew Croke, on a rags to riches tale as he discovers a magic lamp and is granted three wishes by the larger-than-life genie.
He wishes to become a prince, so he can win the heart of Princess Jasmine, played by ex-Sugababes singer Jade Ewan who plays the role with grit and strength and when the men are arguing on stage over her future she insists she isn’t a prize to be won.
Along the way, Aladdin must thwart the Sultan’s evil grand vizier the devilish Jafar who wants Aladdin out the way so he can marry Jasmine and become Sultan.
The moments Jafar and his pint-sized sidekick Iago were on stage together were superb and a scene where the two try and practice their evil laughs was greatly enjoyed by the audience.
Jermaine Woods’ characterisation of parrot Iago was wonderful and had me squawking with laughter.
No expense has also been spared in this extravagant production and Alan Menken, who composed both the film and theatre show, has given it a reboot with new songs such as the tear-jerking Proud of Your Boy sung by Aladdin.
Integral to the story, is the fact you sympathise with Aladdin despite his shoplifting ways and Matthew Croke delivered his performance sincerely and with heart.
But the real star of the show was the genie who punctuated the show with powerhouse vocals, comedy and big production number A Friend Like Me ended in rapturous applause.
The stage design was also superb as the set transformed from a town scene to a cave of wonders covered in gold and the genie spiralled up from the floor in a puff of smoke.
During A Whole New World, Jasmine and Aladdin swooped around the stage on a magc carpet with a background of stars and when the lights came along you couldn’t even see how it was being held up.
Aladdin was a magical ride and the perfect escapism with stunning design and a stellar cast – a real Disney delight.
Aladdin is on at the Prince Edward Theatre until August 2019.