Disney's high-flying stage adaptation dazzles Toronto audiences pre-Broadway

Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice
Book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin
Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw

Courtney Reed and Adam Jacobs in Aladdin. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Don't you dare close your eyes during Disney's stage adaptation of Aladdin, now playing a pre-Broadway engagement at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. Featuring a rich tapestry of bejeweled costumes by Gregg Barnes and awe-inspring sets by Bob Crawley, this brilliantly choreographed production directed by Casey Nicholaw is an extravagant feast for the senses.

In this version, the story is narrated by Aladdin's three wise-cracking friends Babkak (Brian Gonzales), Omar (Jonathan Schwartz) and Kassim (Brandon O'Neill), who introduce us to the city of Agrabah with its bustling marketplace of food stalls and fabric vendors, to the tune of "Arabian Nights." It is here that we first meet Aladdin (the charismatic Adam Jacobs), a reformed petty thief whose Robin Hood-like sense of justice gets him in trouble with the law, forcing him to live a life on the run. The high energy "One Jump Ahead" is a fine reenactment of the action-packed scene in the film where Aladdin leaps over balconies and rooftops to escape arrest. New to this production is the song "Proud of Your Boy," a sweet ballad in which Aladdin expresses his desire to make something of himself to please his deceased mother.

Of course, the opportunity to move up in the world presents itself in the form of the beautiful and strong-willed Princess Jasmine (Courtney Reed), who escapes the palace walls in defiance of her father, the Sultan (Clifton Davis), and the law that states she must marry someone of royal heritage. She meets Aladdin in the marketplace and falls for his charms despite his shabby appearance and "street urchin" lifestyle—a revelation that is explored in the new song "A Million Miles Away."

But winning Jasmine's hand is no easy feat: Aladdin must first find his way out of the Cave of Wonders, where he is tricked into helping the Sultan's evil advisor Jafar (a delightfully wicked Jonathan Freeman) and his comical sidekick Iago (Don Darryl Rivera), who are seeking a magic lamp to aid in their plan to usurp the Sultan's throne. Aladdin, the "diamond in the rough," is the only one who can enter this enchanted cave. Little does Jafar know that the boy will discover the magic of the lamp himself, unleashing an all-powerful Genie played by the hilarious James Monroe Iglehart. His larger-than-life rendition of “Friend Like Me,” complete with Vegas-style backup dancers and injections of modern humour, is decidedly the highlight of the show.

The second act opens with another boisterous number, “Prince Ali,” in which Aladdin (now a prince thanks to the second of three wishes granted by the Genie) and his entourage make a big splash at the palace seeking the approval of Jasmine and her father. This plan ultimately backfires, however, since Jasmine is in love with the poor boy she met in the market. Prince Ali/Aladdin manages to win her over again though, with a magic carpet ride in which they discover “A Whole New World” in the starry night sky—a spellbinding scene that uses both high and low-tech theatrical techniques with wonderful effect.

The remainder of the production is focused primarily on Aladdin's rescue (Jafar has him thrown in prison)—his pals Babkak, Omar and Kassim storm the palace in the amusing "High Adventure" number, a new addition that had the audience in stitches. This sequence takes away from the more important plotlines, however, so that the finale, which includes Jafar's rise and fall from power, and a happy ending for Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie, feels rushed and somewhat anticlimactic. That being said, the show's strengths more than make up for its weaknesses. Spectacular visuals, a toe-tapping score and solid performances translate into a great night of theatre for children and adults alike.

Aladdin runs until January 5 at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Thu, 2013-11-21 - Sun, 2014-01-05
Our rating:



I appreciate the review and agree with most of it. I'm Omar's father and have one slight correction; his name is Jonathan Schwartz not Jason Schwartz. Thanks.

Hi Nevil, thank you so much for catching that. My sincere apologies. All the best.

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