First Impressions: Aladdin The Musical
| By Ellie Bannerman
I must admit to being slightly upset at the news Miss Saigon would be closing in February 2016 to make room for Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre. Miss Saigon is a show I have loved on all viewings and it was surprising to me that such a seemingly successful show would be closing after only a couple of years. But it’s always good to get some new musical talent on the West End so I’ve decided to find out a bit more about Aladdin to try and get myself excited!
Based (unsurprisingly) on the well-known Disney classic, the show opened on Broadway in 2014 with Adam Jacobs, Courtney Reed and James Monroe Iglehart in the leading roles. It’s been running ever since with international productions in Japan and Germany - so surely it can’t be that bad! I think the best place to get into a show is often from their Tony Awards performance - it’s essentially a great chance for the show to advertise itself with a brilliant live performance - so if Aladdin doesn’t impress here it won’t impress anywhere. After giving their performance of ‘Friend Like Me’ a view it’s clear that in traditional Disney style Aladdin doesn’t hold back in terms of excitement with fireworks, tap dancing and a stellar performance from Genie James Monroe Iglehart. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a Disney musical - enough cheesiness to fill a thousand pizzas, catchy tunes and big, impressive choreography.
One of the reasons I think I wasn’t too excited by Aladdin was because I honestly thought it had already been done (most probably because I’ve been to see at least one pantomime based on the story) and it’s never been one of my favourite Disney films. But as I sit here listening to the soundtrack for the first time I am very much enjoying it and can certainly imagine it being a fun family show that will probably stick around for quite some time. Disney is a name people trust, and the security of a story people are already familiar with will make this a show people won’t hesitate to book tickets to. I just hope that these will be reasonably priced, allowing parents to take their children to see some top quality theatre!
I can’t wait to see who gets cast in the Aladdin London production - especially in the role of the Genie for which James Monroe Iglehart won a Tony Award for in 2014. I will never forget his incredible acceptance speech which involved a praise shout and a victory dance! These are definitely some tough shoes to fill but I’m sure the power of Disney will attract a whole host of worthy actors who are up for the part.
After doing my research it’s fair to say I’m a bit more enthusiastic about Aladdin flying into London next year. It’s hard to go wrong with a Disney classic and although I’ll Miss Saigon (sorry for that awful pun) it will be interesting to see how this Broadway transfer casts its spell over the West End.