By JACOB FROELICH
Nothing stops a show quite like magic. That is, besides spectacle beyond compare and a dazzling tap dance number. You can find all of the aforementioned delights in Disney’s Aladdin, playing now through October 8 at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. Relive the classic rags to riches tale in all its glamour, splendor and wonder. The new musical follows the main plot points of the popular 1992 Disney movie but adds musical ravishments and tantalizing magic for audiences of all ages to enjoy.
Leave your woes of being lured into just another Disney musical at the door, or rather on the carpet (yes, there is a magic carpet and it does have a trick or two up its sleeve). Though, have we ever been disappointed with Disney musicals? Not that I recall. While you may remember the storyline and even how the story ends, Aladdin packs in a few surprises for everyone and the cast is absolutely outstanding. Adam Jacobs reprises his role as the original Aladdin on Broadway, and with good reason. Charming and sincere, he embodies the teenager in all of us, trying to impress and figure out just how to make it in this world and just what to make of love. Isabelle McCalla plays a strong-willed Jasmine with a dazzling voice and a defiant attitude. Her insistence on independence creates a stronger character than I remembered and she is a pleasant departure from the typical princess-in-distress narrative–a great role model for any younglings looking to smash the patriarchy. With that said, there is a show stopper and he is both a riveting character as well as a performance in an of himself. Anthony Murphy as Genie really outdoes himself in every sense of the phrase. If for no other reason, attend for his performance and be wowed. His performance is a beautiful tribute to the late Robin Williams who voiced the animated character in the 1992 movie.
There are delightful interactions between Jonathan Weir and Reggie De Leon, Jafar and sidekick Iago. Aladdin’s compadres Babkak, Omar and Kassim as played by Zach Bencal, Phillipe Arroyo, and Mike Longo respectively, also entertain with a bit of comic relief and they’re quite easy on the eyes if I do say so myself. The ensemble delights with colorful and over the top dance and music from multiple genres. Director Casey Nicholaw records another win in his book for a beautifully put together show that weaves seamlessly from scene to scene. A special call out to Bob Crowley, scenic designer, for a set that truly transforms time, place and even physical size. The efforts of the entire cast and crew make for a well-rounded show that is easy to enjoy and hard to forget.
Disney’s Aladdin is presented by the Hennepin Theater Trust and runs now through October 8th. Tickets range from $39 to $179 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 800-982-2787, by visiting the State Theatre Box Office or online at hennepintheatertrust.org. For more information including student and educator rush tickets visit hennepintheatretrust.org