Les Enfants Reviews – Aladdin
Here at Les Enfants, we love a good show, and, being children’s party planners, it is a given that we love Disney. When we heard that Aladdin was coming to town, we were incredibly excited, and could not wait to see it, and let you know our thoughts!
We all know the story. Street boy meets Princess, conquers an evil vizier with the help of a genie, and love conquers all. When you know a tale inside out, as many of you will do Aladdin, it is hard to imagine how a new production would conjure the same magic that the original brought to the screen. How could anyone compete with Robin Williams as the genie, how would they do the flying carpet, and would it not just feel like a big old pantomime?
First of all, it has to be said that the opening number is absolute gold. Bright colours, exotic dancers, and market scenes fill the stage whilst the genie introduces us to Agrabah, the Arabian city in which our story takes place. We were blown away by the sheer production of it all – it is very clear that no expense has been spared.
Throughout the entire production the set remains incredibly impressive, and one of the true stars of the show. Kudos to Bob Crowley, who designed four of Disney’s biggest shows, Mary Poppins, Tarzan, Aida and The Little Mermaid. The show promises to be one of the most dazzling in the West End, and it certainly does not fall short.
On to the cast. We must start by giving a standing ovation (again!!) to Trevor Dion Nicholas, who plays the genie. Nicholas does not try to emulate Robin William’s timeless approach (who could, and who would dare?), and instead spins a role all of his own. This genie is a wise cracking, jazz star, welcoming dance troupes on to the stage in clouds of smoke and seas of gold and feathers. His vocal performance is outstanding, and his acting sublime.
As for our romantic leads – Aladdin, played by Dean John Wilson, does a fantastic job. He perfectly plays the charming, cheeky Aladdin, delivering a fantastic vocal performance of our favourite solo number ‘Proud of Your Boy’, which was cut from the original movie. This song is a true gem, a beautiful piece by Menken and Ashman, made even more poignant by Ashman’s death, which occurred before the film’s release in 1992.
The only slight criticism would be the casting of Jasmine, played by former Sugababe Jade Ewen. Whilst Ewen delivered a wonderful dramatic performance, her diction throughout her vocal numbers, particularly her first song (an original number written for the show), left the audience noticeably confused. Perhaps it was just the night we visited, as elsewhere, she has been met with good reviews. Her voice did compliment Wilsons’ well, and, with his far crisper diction, the couple performed beautifully together.
We must mention the magic carpet – you will will be absolutely blown away. We just can’t figure out how they did it!! The carpet glides seamlessly throughout a sea of stars, around the stage and out into the audience. Everyone was mesmerised.
So, the question on everyone’s lips, did it not just feel like a good, old fashioned British pantomime? Honestly? Yes, a little. There is no escaping the panto routes that Aladdin has in British culture – this tale has been played out in countless community theatres and village halls throughout the country.
The real difference lies within the budget, the top notch performance by the Genie, and the choreography, which is executed with perfect precision. Plus, the obvious, just in case you hadn’t guessed, there is certainly no Widow Twanky in this production! And really, even if the story is familiar, even if it is a tad pantomime chic, couldn’t we all do with a little panto charm?
Book tickets for your family here to snap up seats at The Prince Edward Theatre. We guarantee you will have a fabulously nostalgic night out, and leave dazzled by colour, and the jazzy wit of Trevor Dion Nicholas.