March 27th, 2014



Walking up to the theatre tonight I noted the marquee announcing Aladdin as a new musical comedy and thought yeah it's a comedy and it's a musical, but it's not really a musical comedy, is it? Well, boy howdy is it ever. It's a song-and-dance buddy-movie-type musical comedy. No monkey, no parrot...Aladdin has a trio of sidekicks to mirror Jasmine's trio of ladies; Iago the parrot, thankfully, is still only one, because he's kinda creepy as a person and three of him would be hard to take. It's pretty faithful to the movie otherwise, aside from a handful of added songs, but mostly without being a straight copy. It feels a little long or slow sometimes, though it's not so long and the format probably wouldn't hear a faster pace. It's an old-timey kind of feel, and the road movies and the golden-age musicals knew how to get where they were going without seeming to rush (but also not to have taken too long to arrive no matter the number of detours).

Which brings me to the cast, who for all their efforts and really swell performances, seem like the damper on the whole thing. They can sing, they can dance...after all, miss, this is Broadway. They do it all well and they don't sell it too hard...they're an ensemble, there's just not a lot of charisma onstage. There's no anchor, no force of personality, nobody who can sell it without working...that's why it seems a bit sluggish even as it runs at the proper speed.

Now, that all sounds pretty harsh and terrible, but really it's a pretty good show, it's entertaining, it's reasonably well put together, nicely staged with some magical touches. Fans of the movie won't be disappointed—except perhaps the fierce monkey partisans—but there's plenty of new creation. If you're inclined to go I won't dissuade you, and I'd even recommend it. But it does lack that something that pulls all the parts together into something bigger and better, that alchemy that turns a good show into a don't-miss-this.