Lamps, Genie, Action Aladdin on Broadway

Coming out of the subway station on 42nd Street and 7th Avenue, you’re welcomed by the magnificent purple and gold marquee of “Aladdin” with its bright lights calling you into the New Amsterdam theater. In comparison to the melting, dripping snow, the historic Broadway theater’s magic invited ticket holders in for the matinee of Disney’s current hit musical.

Student Engagement offered discount tickets to the matinee on Saturday, February 11, at a low price of $30. Seated up in the balcony, fellow MC students sat together, laughing and marveling at the excitement onstage.

Disney knows how to create a good musical, proven by the classic stage adaptations of their famous musical movies such as “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Newsies” and “Mary Poppins”. Their most successful show is “The Lion King” which has been on Broadway at the Minskoff Theater since 2006. It was originally at the New Amsterdam theater, beginning on Broadway back in 1997.

“Aladdin” is Disney’s most recent Broadway musical, after opening in 2014. It is based on the film of the same name. Favorite songs from the film are present throughout the stage production as they come to life with the help of a large ensemble and an all-star cast.

James Monroe Iglehart without a doubt stole the show portraying the role of Genie (voiced by the late actor Robin Williams in the animated film). Iglehart won the Tony Award in 2014 for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for his role. His show-stopping number “Friend Like Me” is a nonstop dancing and special effects extravaganza that received a thirty-second ovation. Iglehart takes a break to stretch and take a breather after the song, but it’s clear that the actor is an old pro at being the playful, sarcastic magical figure.

While many songs fans will find familiar from the film are present, there are many new songs and characters as well. “Proud of Your Boy” is sung by Aladdin to his deceased mother and is used as a motif throughout the rest of the musical. Aladdin, played by Adam Jacobs who originated the role at the beginning of the Broadway run, sings and dances with his three best friends Babkak, Omar and Kassim, who replace the beloved monkey sidekick from film, Abu (who makes a clever cameo if you keep your eyes peeled).

The production is full of colorful, bejeweled costumes to keep up with the constant onstage surprises and laughs, such as Aladdin becoming Prince Ali and parading into the palace then Genie disappearing to his “dressing room” when he gets ignored.

Princess Jasmine, played by Courtney Reed who also originated her role of Jasmine in 2014, also dons her famous teal crop top and flowy pants combo as she begins to fall for the mysterious Prince Ali, who reminds her of someone she once knew. This is all confirmed when Aladdin lets his guard down on the magic carpet ride during “A Whole New World” and the carpet flies around the stage in the starry night.

With memorable characters (including villains Jafar and Iago), hilarious breaking the fourth wall (like a Genie who knows all of the current memes and hot dance moves) and dazzling musical numbers (“One Jump Ahead” played out on five separate moving set pieces, complete with Agrabah merchants and angry guards), “Aladdin” was a show that all MC students enjoyed on their Saturday afternoon.