Aladdin sparkles with theatrical magic

Disney’s Aladdin stage show has opened at the Civic this week and there couldn’t be a better venue for this big, bold, sparkly, musical extravaganza. If I found a magic lamp, one of my three wishes would certainly be to see this show again.

Based on the 1992 Disney animated film, Aladdin’s stage escapades are every bit as magical but with extra bling and extra genie magic. We’re welcomed to the Arabian city of Agrabah and meet Al, a poor young man who finds himself gifted with the chance to be granted three wishes by a genie in a lamp. He believes his humble self could never really win the love of a princess, so he uses his wishes to help him woo Princess Jasmine. But are there sinister forces at work too? Will anyone thwart his plans for a happily ever after?

(Watch our condensed review here)

Aladdin is a BIG show. The sets are phenomenal – causing gasps of awe upon some reveals. The real jaw-droppers include the decadent cave set, draped in all things gold and shiny, and the wonderfully romantic moonlit magic carpet ride.

The costumes too deserve their own billing – dazzling, shimmering, jewelled and colourful masterpieces of Arabian inspired garms aid our stars to sparkle just that little bit more.

Gold sets aside, all of this is nothing if the performers themselves weren’t 24kt fabulous and packed with local Kiwi talent. Not a foot wrong and not a note wrong – that’s what you get from this cast of talented performers. The ensemble goes from street market jollies to full-on Broadway show tune chorus lines and every second is 5-star perfection.

Aladdin is played by the wonderful Graeme Isaako whose cheeky charm and smooth vocals win the audience’s support from the get-go. His belting out of ‘Proud of your Boy” definitely had an extra emotional impact on opening night and proud of our boy we were!

Shubshri Kandiah plays the sassy Princess Jasmine who just wants to find love on her own terms. She bonds perfectly with our leading man and if your heart doesn’t melt with their duets ‘A Million Miles Away’ and ‘A Whole New World’ you’re truly dead inside.

Every story needs a good villain and Adam Murphy delivers a perfectly hammed up Jafar who’s set on getting his hands on the powerful lamp. His dastardly deeds are topped with his many variations on evil laughs along with his sidekick Iago played by Doron Chester.

I also really enjoyed the fun and comical performance of ‘High Adventure’ from Aladdin’s mates Kassim (Rob Mallett), Babkak (Troy Sussman) and Omar (Adam Di Martino).

But, the main highlight on the stage was hidden in that magical lamp. ‘Grab yourself a doggy bad as the Genie is taking it home!’ From the minute Gareth Jacobs appears on the stage he is pure joy to watch. Funny, energetic and wonderfully vocally diverse. His performance of the show stopper that is ‘Friend Like Me’ was done with such gusto that I found it hard to understand when he would have had time to take a breath. And, he did all this while weaving and bobbing amongst the brilliant choreography of moving set pieces and showgirls and boys all donned in golden tassels and sparkles. Oh yeah and there’s actual fireworks on stage too! His vibrant performance brought the house down and the audience out of their seats – and that was even before the interval.

Aladdin is a whole new world of musical extravaganza. Theatrical magic at it’s best and everything you could wish for in a show. Make your own wishes come true and book yourself a ticket today.

Aladdin is on at The Civic Theatre until 3rd March.

Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar.