Disney’s Aladdin made its premiere on Broadway on Thursday March 20 at the New Amsterdam Theater. The show tells the story of a street urchin named Aladdin who falls in love with a princess named Jasmine and is based on Disney’s 1992 animated movie of the same name. During opening night, some critics were not feeling the magic of the show while others thought it was wonderful. Charles Isherwood, a writer for The New York Times said that the show defied his dour expectations. He continued by saying that it had a mildly syrupy and infectious spirit.
Writer Marilyn Stasio of Variety said that Bob Crowley, who won six Tony awards, might be getting another Tony for his imaginative sets that grab the storybook wonder and fun of the folk tale. Stasio continues to speak positively of the show by saying that during the amazing number, Arabian Nights, Crowley created a colorful marketplace in the kingdom of Agrabah that has a visual anchor of spinning set pieces that telescope into fun new forms. Stasio also comments on the costumes by saying that Gregg Barnes, the costumer for the show, creates a ravishing first impression by his use of elegant silhouettes, rich materials and bright colors.
However, Stasio follows up her positive response to the clothing by saying that the costumes had so much jewelry on them that it was surprising how anyone could move in them. She was not feeling the magic of Aladdin when she said the entire show had a feeling of overkill. Stasio also says that the show does not encapsulate the spirit of the late Howard Ashman. and it is a joke that Aladdin described as a tribute to him. Ashman wrote the lyrics for most of the songs in the movie and had the inspiration for the film. Stasio continues by saying that if a person’s work is restored without respecting their artistic sensibility then it cannot be called a tribute.
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter said that the show was not the most sophisticated form of entertainment but that the young members of the audience will not notice. Rooney also said that the musical was silly and sweet fun. Terry Teachout from The Wall Street Journal said that the show fell roughly between those two stools for Disney’s Broadway productions of Tarzan and The Lion King. Teachout continued by saying that it was not as good as the movie but did have super-duper sets, a great star and amazing special effects.
The Broadway premiere of Aladdin did have some more positive reviews despite the negativity. Roma Torre, of the news station NY1, said that the show was close to the top of Disney’s Broadway productions. Torre also said that it was a wonderful adaption that was filled with color, a lot of theatrical magic and charm. The New York Post said that the show did not catch lightning in a bottle but did let a very neat genie out of the lamp. The newspaper continues by saying that the genie is James Monroe Iglehart.
Aladdin was given mixed reviews by critics who had both positive and negative comments about the show. One critic was feeling the magic when they said it was a good adaptation while another said it was not the most sophisticated form of entertainment. The Broadway production first played in 2011 at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle for a trial run and then had another run this year at the Ed Mirvish Theater before making its most recent premiere at The New Amsterdam Theater in New York. During the show, viewers can hear songs by the late Ashman and Alan Menkent that did not make it into in the movie.
By Jordan Bonte