Ever since I first saw Aladdin being advertised I knew it was a West End show that I wanted to see. For a start, I’m a huge Disney fan and (thought I) knew all the songs. My best friend also wanted to see it. The costumes were bound to be spectacular. I love going to see musicals, particularly in London, and this was added to my list straight away. And, when Sophie and I finally managed to get our diaries to align, we went to see it!
From the moment I arrived in Euston station the sense of anticipation was building, largely due to the huge screen playing snippets from the show! But having looked forward to it for so long, was I disappointed? No, although I’ll happily admit that it wasn’t perfect.
As expected the costumes and staging were spectacular. Many of the costumes were covered in Swarovski crystals and glittered under the lights. The scenery changed multiple times and so was quite complex but all the transitions happened really smoothly. The staging also allowed for the Genie to make dramatic entrances and exits throughout the show. One of my favourite scenes was when Jasmine and Aladdin were singing “A Whole New World”, but not because of the song. They were on the magic carpet and the stage was covered in lights, making it look as if they were amongst the stars. However the really clever bit was the huge piece of cloth underneath them which was being moved around to make it look as though they were flying over different landscapes. This was simple and subtle but was incredibly effective.
The Genie was quite easily the run away star of the show, which wasn’t entirely unexpected. His songs were great, his costume was great and his lines were very funny. To some extent this was needed as I have to admit that Aladdin wasn’t a particularly strong lead, but the Genie more than made up for this. “Friend like me” was the best song in the show and that scene was brilliant. I particularly liked the additional snippets of Disney songs which were added in. I’m sure they were scripted but the Genie delivered them as though they were ad-libbed, making it all a lot funnier. I wish there had been an encore of this scene at the end!
My one disappointment of the show was the fact that all of the characters spoke with unnecessary American accents. According the cast list only the Genie was actually American (he was also the Genie in the Broadway version) so why were the rest of them pretending to be?! It’s set in the Middle East! Given that it was being shown in London they could have at least kept English accents and dialects instead of at one point referring to “diapers”. It was just a little bizarre and grated on me to some extent.
Whilst a few new songs were introduced, the majority of the songs were from the original Disney film so there was plenty of opportunity to sing along. Because it was quite a familiar story line to me I didn’t really have to concentrate on what was going on, but could just sit back and enjoy it. If you are planning to go to a West End show and have children, then this (or Lion King) would be the show I’d take them to see. It’s not the best show I’ve ever seen but it was certainly an excellent evening.