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Theatre Review: Aladdin, The Musical.

Last night I had the pleasure of going to the press night of Aladdin, showing at The Theatre Royal, Plymouth. A vibrant mixture of panto, musical and comedy – with a sprinkling of astonishing amounts of sparkle!

Disney’s international hit has embarked on a UK tour after 10 years in Broadway and the West End and is showing in Plymouth until Sunday 11 February. 

Of course everyone knows the story; down on his luck, Aladdin dreams of a better life. His fortune changes when he bumps into Princess Jasmine in the market and goes on an adventure beyond his wildest dreams, overcomes the wicked ways of the the ‘baddie’ and sidekick that threatened to thwart true love – and is granted three wishes which ultimately sees him ‘get the girl’.

The part of Aladdin is played by Gavin Adams. I’m always amazed when a character that has been playing a role for months gives the sort of energy that one might expect from a first night! He has wonderful vocals, mischievous charm and, at that moment, I couldn’t really imagine anyone other than him delivering this iconic character. Desmonda Cathabel is a lovely Princess Jasmine, gentle and full of warmth – and my goodness, what a voice! The two of them have great chemistry and felt perfect in this role. 

But for me, the highlight of the show was Yeukayi Ushe as the sassy Genie. I could have watched three hours of him alone, singing my favourite Disney songs and delivering that ‘Robin Williams’ magic with something even more extra. How wonderful it would have been if the two of them could have met and performed together! When Yeukayi performed ‘Friend Like Me’ I realised that I was sitting up in my seat with my mouth wide open – I guess that really is the epitome of ‘jaw-dropping’. It is unsurprising that he got the big cheer at the end and had people rising to their feet for the standing ovation. 

Of course, we cannot forget the villain – who in panto style got a few boos! Adam Strong plays Jafar with Angelo Paragoso as Iago. What a pair! With a certain camp comedic style, the two address each other and the audience in a much more measured tone, bringing the audience in, in stark contrast to the pizazz of the scenes before and after.

The soundtrack includes many songs from the film including ‘Arabian Nights’, ‘Friend like me’, ‘Prince Ali’, and ‘A Whole New World’, as well as new songs by Tony, Olivier, Grammy, Emmy and eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken with Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. 

Overall, the extravaganza of a show with its dazzling costumes, bright colours, imaginative lighting, spectacular set and sparkle, made the cold and frosty night that I returned to feel a bit dull! I longed for a magic carpet (which, by the way, just stole my heart but I don’t want to ruin the surprise) to take me off into the starry sky. 

I can’t recommend this show enough to brighten the winter blues. You’ll be glad to know that there are some tickets available with best availability for mid-week and Sunday 6pm performances. Book here. There will also be a Relaxed Performance on Thursday, 08 February at 6PM combining BSL and Audio Description, with open auditorium doors, adjusted lighting, sound, and extra wheelchair spaces.

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