Disney is not averse to some tinsel in its musicals, but to the amount of precious metal that goes into the song ‘Friend Like Me’. Aladdin shines off the stage, De Nederlandsche Bank would become jealous. And yet in this scene it is actor Stanley Burleson who steals the show. As a ghost from a magic lamp, he may grant the title character three wishes. In a dazzling act he gives a foretaste of his skills: „Say what you are missing and, go, there it is! There is a lot of tapping, juggling and in the meantime Burleson lets the fast text roll tirelessly. He plays the ghost (perhaps the true protagonist of this musical) masterfully.
Aladdin is packed with moments when the spectacle of the stage shines in colorful ensemble scenes. For example, the production, which premiered in Seattle ten years ago, kicks off with a chase through the streets of the fictional city of Agrabah after the poor protagonist steals something from a market stall. Aladdin darts between buildings, ducks over carts and squeezes through his fellow townspeople, shaking off the arm of the law.
The whirling ‘One jump’, which can be heard on this scene, is performed by an excellent live orchestra. In the musical they play – in addition to a few songs that were written especially for the musical – songs from the animated film from 1992, such as the catchy ‘Prince Ali’ and ‘A whole new world’. Erik van Muiswinkel translated these songs, as well as the further script. It is his first major musical and not a crazy translation debut. Van Muiswinkel adds some good (word) jokes and turns ‘A whole new world’ into the beautiful ‘The world is waiting’.
No smart monkey
Unlike the animated film, the musical is not a beast. On Aladdin’s side, three friends replace the wisecracking monkey Abu. The villain Jafar – a role that fits Roberto de Groot’s body – doesn’t have a parrot as an assistant, but a cringing assistant (Darren van der Lek). The iconic flight with the flying carpet is of course just part of the performance. That’s a magical moment, when stars twinkle and the rug actually lifts off the ground.
The love couple on that carpet is well cast by the way. As Aladdin, Jonathan Early is charming and comedic, and he has a strong voice. Co-star Keoma Aidhen has already played Jasmine in Germany and her vocal abilities are also very good. Moreover, she manages to find the balance between a Disney princess who chats with her friend about the prince on the white horse and a woman with her own opinion, who does not just let herself be married off. This character is still not really autonomous, but all that glitters cannot be gold either.