Aladdin, Disney’s latest cartoon-to-stage transfer, is now playing at the New Amsterdam Theater. Adam Jacobs (The Lion King) plays the title role, a clever street urchin who finds a magic lamp, with Courtney Reed (In the Heights) as Jasmine, the spunky princess he seeks to impress. James Monroe Iglehart (Memphis) plays the Genie, the role voiced by Robin Williams in the film, and Jonathan Freeman (The Little Mermaid, She Loves Me) recreates his evil Jafar from the movie. Here are five reasons to take the magic carpet ride with Aladdin.
That dazzling genie
James Monroe Iglehart obliterates any memory of Robin Williams with his high-voltage, multiple-personality performance. All the critics agreed that he is the Energizer bunny that keeps the show running. “Every time this genie’s on stage, it’s as if Aladdin were mainlining Red Bull,” raves Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Post. “Iglehart works so hard during his big number, you fear for his health—that is, when you’re not laughing your head off.”
“Friend Like Me” stops the show — literally
Rarely does a production number receive a standing ovation in the middle of a show, but “Friend Like Me,” the big song wherein the genie demonstrates his fabulous powers to his new master with the aide of a hard-working chorus, has them standing in the aisles before intermission. In addition to the jokes and satires on game shows and other musicals, there are Gregg Barnes’s fabulous costumes and Bob Crowley’s elaborate sets plus references to previous Disney numbers.
The magic carpet ride
You’ll “ooh” and “aah” as Aladdin and Jasmine appear to fly over ancient Arabia on the fabled rug with no visible means of support. You’ll spend the next week wondering how they did it.
Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed
The two leads are beautiful to look at and listen to as they bring three dimensions to the cartoon hero and heroine.
Deliciously evil villains and delightfully goofy sidekicks — a Disney tradition
Jonathan Freeman is at his snarling best as the treacherous Jafar and Don Darryl Rivera is his hilariously squawking henchmen (a parrot in the movie). The trio of klutzes played by Brian Gonzalez, Brandon O’Neill and Jonathan Schwartz are also terrific as Aladdin’s well-meaning pals.