Nicole Acquah

Review: ALADDIN at the Prince Edward Theatre

How can I sum up Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre in one word?

Well, that's easy: Magical.

Aladdin (Matthew Croke) and Jasmine (Jade Ewen) wedding scene - photo by Deen van MeerAladdin (Matthew Croke) and Jasmine (Jade Ewen) wedding scene - photo by Deen van Meer

The classic and beloved tale is larger than life onstage in the West End, with fantastic choreography, a joyful score by Alan Menken, and jaw-dropping aesthetics courtesy of set designer Bob Crowley.

When penniless Aladdin (Matthew Croke) falls in love with Princess Jasmine (Jade Ewen), he devises a plan to win her heart. But he must gain the approval of her father the Sultan (Irvine Iqbal).

So how does this theatrical adaptation capture the magic of the film we all know and love? Firstly, at the heart of the show is a very well written script, full of humorous food-related puns ("Hum us a tune, then." "Did someone say hummus"?), cheesy one-liners, but also touching romantic moments. There is no Abu the monkey, but we do retain the sqawking Iago (Jermaine Woods), in the recognisable 'sidekick to the bad guy' role.

The best thing about the show is how multi-faceted it is – every single character, from Jasmine’s all-female posse and Aladdin’s gang of guys, to the romantic leads - are played with fervour and skill.

It is, however, Michael James Scott, in the role of Genie who transports the audience to a ‘whole new world’. With banterous quips, infectious energy and several references to Black popular culture, James Scott brings a sassy and contemporary spin to the well-loved character.

For example, there is a genius moment in which the Genie begins to serenade Aladdin, but quickly this turns into a mash-up of Disney's greatest hits. The medley is unexpected, self-aware and hilarious for both these reasons.

The costumes are elaborate and the set is cleverly used to juxtapose the streets of Agrabah with the Sultan's own lavish palace. Yet the most striking and memorable moment has to be the magic carpet ride, during which Aladdin and Jasmine are transported through the air (incredibly, with no visible aid other than the carpet itself) against a breathtaking starlit backdrop.

The villainous duo (Fred Johanson as Jafar) inhabit a role that is pantomimetic in nature, also helping to engage the younger members of the audience, who may not be able to follow the fast-paced and dialogue heavy performance. How many evil villain 'mwhahahaha' laughs can they fit into a two hour length show? (Answer: A lot).

The show ends on a high with an all singing, glitzy musical number - complete with tap dancing - that will have you clapping along.

If you're looking for an entertaining and visually striking performance, Aladdin is the musical for you.

Aladdin the Musical - London