The magical story of “Aladdin” captured the hearts of millions in 1992 when Disney premiered one of its most popular and highest grossing movies.
“Aladdin” went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Score and introduced the hit song “A Whole New World,” which won the second of the film’s two Academy Awards as Best Original Song and was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Over 30 years later, the story has now been reimagined on Broadway at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre with a few fresh new twists. The illustrious show gave great laughs, presented the most beautiful and elaborate set design by Bob Crowley, jaw-dropping costumes by two-time Tony Award winner Gregg Barnes, along with a comedic, lively, and nostalgic script that quickly transported the audience to Acrobat, Egypt.
Aladdin, played by Adi Roy, and Marcus M. Martin as Genie, did not disappoint during their introductions and big numbers “Friend Like Me” and “A Whole New World.”
Opening night brought out everyone’s inner child with multiple standing ovations and gasps throughout the performance. The show began with theatrical stunts keeping all eyes glued to the stage.
Aladdin is an orphan navigating life with his three friends – Babkak (played by Jake Letts), Omar (played by Ben Chavez), and Kassim (played by Colt Prattes). Princess Jasmine (played by Senzel Ahmady) was elegant yet defiant as she sought independence. The evil Jafar (played by Anand Nagraj) was frightening and meticulous, while his counterpart Iago (Aaron Choi) was sneaky, yet provoking.
And although we miss the mischievous Abu and the serious Raj, new and old characters support a mature storyline allowing Aladdin’s character growth through the central themes of identity and self-discovery.
From getting trapped in the gorgeous Cave of Wonders to his first wish of becoming Prince Ali, Adi Roy was perfectly cast for Aladdin down to his voice, mannerisms, and overall dedication to the role. Through his captivating performance, those in attendance were able to relate to the characters’ desires for a better life in unfortunate circumstances.
During a recent interview with the L.A. Sentinel, Roy shared some highlights of the tour, saying, “The energy on opening night was amazing, standing ovations after each song. It’s such a powerful feeling.”
Stealing the show with every step onstage, Marcus M. Martin exuded star power during his dialogues and musical performances. Completely embodying the all-powerful role, Martin was just that. His strong and playful voice accompanied with a lovable personality, embraced the story of the Genie as a journey to freedom.
When asked about representation in theatre, Martin expressed some challenges as a Black actor, but remained inspired from adolescence by those who came before him.
“Seeing James Iglehart as the Genie gave me permission to dream about the life that I now have,” said Martin. “I really believe if you can see it, you can be it and that’s why I also love being a part of the show – the responsibility of being a shadow for other Black and Brown children across the country.”
The highlight of the play was the magic carpet ride shared by Prince Ali and Princess Jasmine. The production team gets five stars for their flying magic carpet scene. As the couple floated through the air on stage, their voices married together during the duet and ended with a kiss.
In true Disney fashion, Aladdin defeats Jafar, Genie is set free, and Princess Jasmine and Aladdin get married and live happily ever after in the concluding scenes. The crowd spared no noise or excitement during the cast’s final bow.
“Aladdin” will play at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre until Saturday, September 23. Tickets are available at www.BroadwayInHollywood.com/Aladdin?