Disney's ALADDIN - Pantages Theatre

Reviewed by Amanda Callas

Disney's hit Broadway musical Aladdin returns to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood for two weeks of glorious fun. This is a work of bedazzling, astonishing showmanship through and through, and you couldn't imagine a more fitting place to see it than the opulent Art Deco palace. It's a spectacular landmark theatre, one-of-a-kind, awe-inspiring and transportive. At the Pantages, Disney's Aladdin is more than a performance, it's a truly special event.  

Everyone in Aladdin's diverse audience -grandparents, romantic couples on dates, boisterous groups of friends coming from work, or children bouncing up down in their seats in Jasmine costumes - all seem to be having the best time of their lives. The high spirits and sheer joy of this show is buoyant and infectious.

While I can't say I am the biggest fan of the original 1992 animated film, I enjoyed every minute of this show. Aladdin's musical numbers are jaw-droopingly spectacular, with impressive special effects and wondrous, old-school chorus lines. The centerpiece of the show surely must be "Friend Like Me." It's a mind-blowing collage of split-second set changes, dancers, singers, costumes, and musical encores that is truly a sumptuous feast for the senses. It's probably the most fun-loving, sparky, magical ten minutes I've witnessed on a live stage.  

Aladdin doesn't take it itself too seriously. This is a very self-aware, ironic production, with constant humor, groaning food puns, and send-up gags. Villains Jafar and Iago share a delightful moment together practicing their evil laughs. It's a lot of silliness and constant good fun.Aladdin is more ironic than most Disney storytelling, tonally more like The Lego Movie, Shrek, or Romancing The Stone. But it's far from jaded. Along with all the laughs, there is brightness and sweetness at the heart of this show. It's a light-hearted, comedy-adventure romp, with a honey drizzle of romance. There's something very Old Hollywood about Aladdin that I found deeply charming.

It's challenging to single out performers for praise in Aladdin because the cast as a whole is outstanding. A chorus dancer or singer in this production would be the lead in another show. A surprise hit for me was the trio of Aladdin's street friends Omar (Ben Chavez), Babkak (Jake Letts) and Kassim (Colt Prattes). They are tremendous triple threats as singers, dancers, and actors, and have such a compelling, heartwarming camaraderie, I really wanted to see more of them. Their number "High Adventure" was a standout, kicky, with joyful exuberance and dazzling choreography. I could watch it over and over again.

Adi Roy as lead Aladdin has a voice that is so implausibly perfect, it doesn't sound real. His song "Proud of Your Boy" is tenderly affecting, and his duet with Senzel Ahmady as Jasmine in "A Whole New World" is sheer loveliness. Adi Roy has an abundance of boyish charm, great comedic timing, and enormous likability. It's hard to believe he is fresh out of school (during the pandemic, no less) with only one brief Broadway show under his belt. In spite of all the goofiness, pranks and thievery, there is an old-school heroic, Errol Flynn quality about him that you don't see very often.  

Villain Jafar, played by Anand Nagraj, has the kind of supercilious George Sanders voice that is melodic, deep, and perfectly evil. He has a wonderfully malevolent stage presence and hilarious chemistry with Iago, played by Aaron Choi. Aaron Choi is an unabashed delight - an irrepressible comedic treasure - in every scene he's in.

The anchor of Aladdin surely must be the Genie, and relative newcomer Marcus M. Martin delivers the performance of a lifetime. He has so much charisma, so much energy and electricity, I think he could light up all of Los Angeles by himself. The moment he appears on stage, the wattage of the show just blows up. His talents go beyond singing, dance, and comedy into some kind of meta performance, where he alters the atomic energy of the room. Marcus M. Martin is not just hilarious. He brings something richer and deeper to the comedy, something very human, raw, and alive, under all the over-the-top gags and wizardry. He is a magnificent talent.  

The choreography and direction by award-winning Broadway veteran Casey Nicholaw are brilliant. Aladdin is a show that is incredibly kinetic, dynamic, and catchy, always moving. There is everything here, from marketplace chases to choreographed sword fights to silly, goofy numbers and show-stopping Ziegfeld Follies style chorus lines and vivacious belly dancing. The show never stops moving and never stops finding inventive ways to have dance and movement tell the story.  

Aladdin's scenic design by award-winner Bob Crowley is exquisite, lavish, and inventive. I was constantly struck by the glimmering beauty and striking boldness of the costume design by Gregg Barnes. There is a lot of wizardry on display here. Just blink and you'll miss scene changes, costumes changes, and impressive special effects. 

Aladdin could easily be the most fun you'll have all year.

Disney'sAladdin plays a limited 2-week engagement at Hollywood Pantages Theatre September 12 - 23, 2023. 

Performances Tuesdays through Sunday. T ickets start at $35.

Ticketing:  https://www.broadwayinhollywood.com/events/detail/disneysaladdin-1

Ages 6 and up.

Show runs two and a half hours. One intermission.

Street parking with many nearby paid lots

Posted By DH Magazine on September 14, 2023 03:13 pm | Permalink