Aladdin is a show that is running through at the PPAC from October 29th, 2019 to November 10th, 2019, and on the second day of the show, I had the pleasure of getting to see it live. When I interviewed Ben Chavez who played Omar, he told me to prepare for a magical show, and he was right. The show was based off of the 1992 Disney film, but it was not a carbon copy and it had its own elements to it while still staying true to its Disney magic.
One thing that the staged version did differently from the film was have three human friends for Aladdin instead of the monkey, Abu. Those three friends were Omar, Babkak, and Kassim. Omar was the nervous, shy sort of friend that was always loyal to Aladdin and never really wanted to abandon him when the others wanted to due to the treatment thy received from Aladdin. Babkak was the sassy friend who was always hungry and all he really wanted to do was eat. Of the three, Kassim acted as the leader of the trio and always made sure that Aladdin knew when they disagreed with a decision he was making. Speaking of replacing an animal character with three humans, Jasmine’s tiger friend was not in the show and it was replaced by three female friends that did whatever she needed them to do for her. Iago was still present as the comic relief, but he was a human instead of a bird. This still worked because he was able to act as Jafar’s little sidekick. The story was more or less the same besides those few points.
There were a few additional songs and Friend Like Me was over seven minutes and was such a magical experience. There were so many things that made that particular song so great. There was the terrific performance by the Genie, Aladdin, and all of the other people on stage. The lighting and the effects on stage like the smoke and sound effects were also little addons to make it even more spectacular. The production was also able to use some fantastic pyrotechnics and used the fireworks at all of the right moments. Characters on the stage during this song also performed actual magic tricks that you would see a magician do that really pushed the idea of the Genie being out of this world magical. Genie also had some fun transitions in the song that were different from those in the film but had the same idea of him changing things up on the fly. There was a section where he was singing some country music and then switched to singing some other classic Disney songs from movies like Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. It was just an awesome, over the top type of musical number that you would expect from something with the Disney name on it.
There was also the marvelous magic carpet scene with Aladdin and Jasmine. I still have no idea how they were able to pull that scene off and actual fly on the carpet. My mouth was wide open the whole time and I was just taken into the spectacle. There were also some more minor magical moments that do not get enough credit. There were the flying pages when Jafar and Iago were going through the book of evil, and there were also the clothes transitions of Jafar when he became sultan and then a genie. He went from the same clothing of three colors all in the same scene and never moved, yet the clothes kept changing and I could not figure out at the time how it was done. It was a show that had its own take on the show, but it was still able to keep me and everyone else enthralled in that Disney magic!