Tuesday, 1 August 2017

REVIEW: Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre

I am a huge Disney fan, so what more could I ask for than a night at a Disney musical?! Although Aladdin isn't one of my top Disney films, its still a classic and I grew up with the film and the music. This story, originally from the collection of folktales ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ (Or as we know it, Arabian Nights), was made into a hit animated musical in 1992 by Disney and has since become a classic and a must have in everyones Disney collections. 

Opening a year ago in London’s West End, we welcome the new cast which includes new leading man Matthew Croke. 

Matthew Croke is the perfect leading man and plays the Disney Prince extremely well. He is so natural to watch on stage and has a smile (and abs) to melt anyones heart. Along with Jade Ewan, who truly is everything a Disney Princess needs to be, they are the perfect coupling and we are behind them both through out. 

Trevor Dion Nicholas takes charge of the production as the Genie, although he was an audience favourite his jokes failed to land and there was no space to understand anything he was saying. His parts went too quick and not because we were loving them, because they were rushed. 

His audience interaction and topical jokes (which even included a Union Jack umbrella and Beyonce references) just felt amateur and didn't match up to the production. His performance was far too pantomime. 

Leon Craig, Miles Barrow and Daniel El Bourg were brilliant as Aladdin's side kicks Babkak, Omar and Kassim. To translate the beloved 1992 film to the stage there needed to be some changes and I think this was a great way to fill the story out however the characters did feel a little empty and not relevant. Saying that, these three guys were a fabulous trio and their voices mixed so well together, it was beautiful to listen to. 

Their big number, High Adventure, wasn't good at all. Although there were beautiful vocals the choreography was terrible and half performed by the ensemble.

This cast have only been in it for a few weeks and the majority (with the
exception of 2 or 3) look bored. So I was bored. 

The production values were not what I expected, it was cheap and untidy. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen more expensive and slick sets in my local pantomime. It was done the easy way and nothing blew me away. However, I shall give credit when credit is due, the magic carpet was a true thing of magic. It was welcomed to a well deserved roar from the audience and was truly stunning. 

The only thing that really impressed me was Gregg Barnes Costumes and Josh Marquettes Hair design, the wigs were absolutely gorgeous. 

Uninspiring and uninventive direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw, who's work I usually love, but here it falls flat. 

I had high hopes for this musical, being a Disney production you expect big things and a spectacle. What we received was far from it, unclean scene changes with magic effects that we could see being done on stage. 

Everything in this production just seems to have been put together with no love or care, nothing was smooth and it seemed like an expensive pantomime. Save money and make a trip to your local theatre at Christmas. 

This story had so much potential but unfortunately it falls flat and not even a hunky leading man could save it. 

If you’re looking for something to take your child to, this could be the show. It will captivate them and would be a fantastic introduction to the world of musical theatre. An expensive introduction of course, but if you’re on a budget then pantomime should do the same thing. 

A 5 star Pantomime, a 2 star West End musical.

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★

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