Disney’s Aladdin, the musical, is currently at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Performances run until July 1, and I highly recommend that you go. I went to a performance last night and the nearly sold-out crowd ate it up from beginning to end. Having watched a clip of this show from the Tony Awards a few years back, I knew that the Genie was going to be the star of the show and he was. Michael James Scott, who plays the role of the Genie and was the understudy for the Genie during the original Broadway run, is fantastic. Just watch him sing and dance to “Friend Like Me” and you’ll be blown away by his stamina and unending charisma. He’s the heart and soul of the show and made it a blast to watch.
The rest of the cast is solid and most of the songs are winners, although a few of the numbers are merely serviceable. While the actors playing Aladdin and Jasmine have great chemistry together, their vocal prowess isn’t anything to write home about – especially Jasmine, played by understudy Annie Wallace for this performance, whose range and tone are significantly better than the power of her voice. The crowd went nuts during “A Whole New World” because it’s the signature song everyone remembers and because of the amazing job this production did of recreating the magic carpet ride from the animated film. Even though I had a wonderful time at this show and I recommend you go see it, Beauty and the Best still remains my all-time favorite musical and the best Disney stage show I’ve seen thus far. That musical has superiors songs, storytelling, and characters. All that said, Aladdin is filled with beautiful sets, great choreography, laugh-out-loud jokes, and a heavy dose of the Disney magic we all know and love.