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  • Writer's pictureandybram69

Aladdin the Musical

You don't need to find an old lamp to have a magical, fun packed evening - our wish is their command.

The latest Disney live action production rolled into town and gave the stella guest list for the gala press night an evening to remember. Following on the heels of Beauty & The Beast and The Lion King, Aladdin, with music by Disney stalwart Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice & Chad Beguelin, is a fabulous production which will delight all members of the family.

The tale is as the original portrayed in the 1992 animated smash hit; diamond in the rough Aladdin is ‘recruited’ to retrieve the magic lamp and, unwittingly awakens the Genie who grants him his now customary 3 wishes.

The casting is a delight; Gavin Adams plays Aladdin with a cheeky and energetic charm, Princess Jasmine (played by Desmonda Cathabel) is perfection in her role with her beautiful voice raising goosebumps during ‘A Whole New World’.

Of course, any fan of the original animation is sure to test the live version by comparing the Genie to Robin Williams’ genre defining voice over, and Yeukayi Ushe doesn’t fail – in fact, and I know I will have some come for me for saying it, but his energy and cheeky sass stands him above all that has come before in the role.

There are some differences to the original, notably Aladdin is bereft of his monkey friend Abu, but instead we have his 3 fellow market tykes; Adam Taylor as plays Omar, Nay-Nay (Kazzim) and Nelson Bettencourt (Babkak) offer a hilarious interpretation of the sword swashing, fight scene as well as some memorable song & dance routines. There are some extra songs too, but the standards of the original, “You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me”, “Prince Ali”, “Arabian Nights” and of course “A Whole New World” are here in full, technicolour wonder. An added bonus for Disney fans is to try and see how many excerpts from other Disney movie songs are cleverly woven into the soundtrack; we found 5.

The villain has a likeability about him that few other such parts can boast, with local boy Adam Strong (Jarfa) showing the power of perfect casting along with Angelo Paragoso as his evil sidekick, Iago, the two of them ensure there is always a witty, lovable evil element.

As far as Disney animated movies transferring to stage musicals go, this is our favourite and certainly recommended for a wonderful evening for the whole family.

Disney's Aladdin is at Sunderland Empire until March 10th.

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