And just like that, the biggest show to open in Australia this year has blown the socks off audiences. Ever since it was announced to make its Australian debut, the hype surrounding Disney’s classic Aladdin has been immense, with industry professionals and theatre lovers alike counting down the days until opening night.
Every childhood memory about this beloved movie came to life on stage in one of the most elaborate experiences one can have at the theatre. There is no expense spared and the wow factor will have your jaw dropped from beginning to end. While the story of Aladdin is very well known, this is not simply a cut and paste of the movie to stage. In fact, there are fantastic original songs, Aussie jokes, and a cameo made by Vegemite. There is a very pantomime feel to the overall production but when the camp factor is this good, there’s no denying audiences will soak up every last bit of it.
A show of this calibre could not be what it is without the cast, and here is a cast of outstanding proportions. Where to even begin with leads as strong as this? While there was a bit of outrage that the Genie and Jasmine were international imports and not home grown talents, it’s safe to say we’re glad they accepted the job. Hands down, Broadway superstar Michael James Scott as the Genie is the shining star and his show stopping number ‘Friend Like Me’ received a resounding and utterly deserving standing ovation – and it wasn’t even the end of Act 1. This role is pivotal in the essence of the show and all we can say is, just you wait.
Leading man Ainsley Melham as Aladdin was every bit the embodiment of a young boy in love. He brought heart and warmth to the role, and an enviable six-pack at that. Actually, six-packs were on high alert amidst the cast, as they definitely showed off svelte summer bodies in winter. American beauty Arielle Jacobs as Jasmine was stunning and captured the strong-willed nature of the princess, showing delicateness in her vocal talents. The antagonist Jafar and comedic Iago played by Adam Murphy and Aljin Abella respectively were an absolute hoot as they cackled and plotted the downfall of our beloved Aladdin. Serious couple goals right here.
As for the Sultan played by George Henare, it was like seeing double. Tom Jones’ doppelgänger was most certainly rocking that bedazzled turban and it was priceless. Special mention must go to Aladdin’s three best friends played by Adam-Jon Fiorentino, Troy Sussman and Robert Tripolino who absolutely shone and showed how beautiful brotherhood and mateship really is. And if you’re a dancer, this is the kind of show you want to be in. The athleticism and stamina required to get through the huge song and dance numbers is remarkable and it showcases just how strong and talented our Australian artists are.
This show is a team effort and after speaking to a lot of the cast at the after party, we really understood how special this show is. This is an amazing opportunity to relive your childhood memories of Aladdin and to share the love of Disney with the next generation.
Aladdin is showing at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney until November 20, 2016! Tickets are available from http://www.capitoltheatre.com.au/tickets/
The reviewer attended the show on opening night August 11.
Photography credit: Deen van Meer