‘Aladdin’ grants the wish for thrilling theater

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Like millions (a rounded number) of people, I’ve seen the 1992 animated Aladdin movie – and while I found the story engaging and kind of sweet, I’m honestly just not a big fan of animation; give me actual pixelated humans or actual 3-D humans on a stage. So, when Broadway at the Eccles opened a musical adaptation of Aladdin last week, I was gung ho to see it.

A condensed version of the story line of Aladdin goes like this: Aladdin is a poor yet care-free street rat in an Arabian city. One day he meets Princess Jasmine, the daughter of the Sultan of the land, and falls madly in love. However, the evil Jafar, the Sultan’s sorcerer, imprisons Aladdin and manipulates him into working for him. Unknown to Aladdin, he is the only one who can enter and unlock the treasures of a secret cave, including a magical lamp. Aladdin finds the lamp and releases the genie trapped within. The genie offers to grant him three wishes. Meanwhile, Jafar wants the lamp and the Princess has to be married within three days.

Yes, it’s a standard Disney fantasy love story. But director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw stages a Las Vegas-esque treat, complete with over-the-top costume designs by Gregg Barnes, over-the-top (as in animated) performances, particularly the part of a (genderqueer) Genie, performed by Major Attaway, and colorful stage and lighting designs by Tony Award-winning Bob Crowley and Natasha Katz. And if you’re asking yourself, “I wonder how they’re going to make a believable flying carpet?”, well that means you definitely should go see it because it’ll knock your genie shoes off.

Yes, Aladdin is a little schmaltzy and a little disproportionate with the story but the audience will forgive that because everything is so colorful and we are swept away with its beauty.

Aladdin is currently running through May 12, tickets at arttix.artsaltlake.org.


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