Theater is a place where magic can take on a physical form, and can be experienced in an elevated place from reality. Especially in a musical, I expect larger than life depictions of characters, where each actor gives me energy and life. The show “Aladdin,” running at the Fox Theatre through September 23, gave me that about 70% of the time. “Aladdin” appeals to the general public, and it does a great job of it, too.
I’ll spoil it now, the Genie is going to be your favorite part of the show. Actor Trevor Dion Nicholas blows the house down. He’s beautifully energetic and gives the show the life that it needs.
However, if you’ve been exposed to theater before, and aren’t afraid to find flaws in a show, you’ll also feel the overall lack of energy that I felt as an audience member. At last Thursday’s press night performance, the ensemble was low energy, tired, and at times, sloppy. The guards, for instance, were lacking verisimilitude, and you could clearly see the movements the choreographer told them to do, and I’m not sure whether this is on purpose or not. You could see in their heads they were thinking, “OK, now turn this way, and now pretend to swing at Aladdin, and now look confused, and now fall” and I couldn’t tell if this is a choice or if they were just tired like the rest of the ensemble.
It’s not a good thing if, as an audience member, I don’t know whether or not a dance move is out of sync on purpose, or not, and this feeling of not being able to tell if something was an intentional choice or not, was a feeling I had throughout the show.
The show struggles to balance the original 1992 Disney animated version of “Aladdin” with the new Broadway version. For example, the set for the city of Agrabah feels very cardboard-boxy and one dimensional. It feels cartoonish and I couldn’t tell if that’s what they were going for or not, because the costumes are beautiful and not cartoonish at all.
The diversity of the cast, in general, is beautiful and impressive. Jay Paranada, who plays Iago, was excellent to watch. Jerald Vincent, who plays Jasmine’s Father, the Sultan is also a talent.
Overall, I was glad to see people of color all throughout the play, especially the ensemble, and I was even more proud when they outdid themselves. The projections are an excellent touch as well, often swirling in smoke-like designs that entangle you deeper into the story. They add to the beauty of most of the sets. At times, the scenic design just blows you away.
“Aladdin” is also a hilarious, entertaining show, and has some incredible musical moments with “Friend Like Me,” “Prince Ali,” and “A Whole New World.”
These numbers give the show energy and that feeling of magic that you look for in theater. These numbers make the best translation from the screen to the stage.
In the end, if you appreciate theater, don’t look too closely at the ensembles dancing and facial expressions because you will not be blown away. But if you want to spend time with famil, or be taken on a magic carpet ride into the show you know and love, give “Aladdin” a try.
Three VOX ATL journalists got to see “Aladdin” on press night thanks to our partnership with Broadway in Atlanta and Most Valuable Kids-Atlanta, through the “More Than a Ticket” program providing opportunities for local youth to experience arts and culture.
The national touring company of “Aladdin: The Musical” is at the Fox Theatre in Midtown Atlanta through Sunday. For tickets and more info, go to foxtheatre.org.
Tyler Bey, 16, attendant of Maynard Jackson High School, Theatre Lover.