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Disney Aladdin

Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Chad Bequelin

Disney Corporation

Palace Theatre, Manchester

May 22-July 7

(also Bradford Alhambra, August 14-Sep 1; Liverpool Empire, Dec 1-Jan 5)

Hello, what's this then? Aladdin (Gavin Adams) finds a lamp, and much hilarity ensues. All pics: Deen Van Meer
Hello, what's this then? Aladdin (Gavin Adams) finds a lamp, and much hilarity ensues. All pics: Deen Van Meer
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Aladdin – Al to his friends – is a poor boy who wants to live up to his (deceased, so not part of the Disney empire) mother’s wishes. So he goes off to the fabled city of Agrabah to meet songsmiths Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and composer Alan Menken, and the Disney Aladdin is the result...

At first it seems a little too far-fetched; how could our hero – Gavin Adams, he of the fresh face and

pleasant voice – make his mark? Even the help of his trio of simple desperadoes: Nelson Bettencourt,

Adam Taylor and Nay-Nay, seems unlikely to lead to riches beyond compare.

The regular appearances of dancers all helps to show that something is possible. But it’s a little like Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ask your grandma what that was); loads of froth, but not much substance. Even the evil Vizier, Adam Strong (though aided by a figure from a stronger play, Iago), seems a little too nice. Good voice, but lacking a little malevolence. He means to be vicious and dangerous, but this is a Disney production, where even the nasty have their nicer side.

But in the nick of time – spoiler alert, last part of the first act – there is a flash of light, a rumble of thunder and, with a rub of the lamp, salvation appears in the shape of a genie Yeukayi Ushe.

Where has been keeping himself till now? In the – cramped – lamp of course. They should let him out

earlier. He has a wonderful number – think Busby Berkeley or Morecambe and Wise at Christmas. It's all walking canes and stairs and legs and audience cheers. It had puzzled me why there were so many over-11s in the audience. It was clear that he is well known, and rightly so. His is a tour-de-force performance.

It's a bit of a puzzle that the showstopper is mid-way through the show.

A tour of the sky round a dark Baghdad is received with applause fully merited by the technical magic; in fact the cultural appropriation goes even further, with the whole cast in beautiful colours, flowing foreign garments and using weapons that appear to be from anywhere east of Suez.

But the production values of Disney, the great orchestra and music from the best popular musical team in the business carry the show through to a triumphantly happy ending.

The only disappointment was that I had no costume to dress up as Princess Jasmine (the lovely Desmonda Cathabel); otherwise a wonderfully entertaining evening

More info and tickets here


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