Aladdin The Musical comes to Tampa

Aladdin the musical is a Braoday musical that tours the world, showcasing their talent acoss the globe.

Broadway.org

Aladdin the musical is a Braoday musical that tours the world, showcasing their talent acoss the globe.

The iconic 1992 Disney classic, Aladdin, became an on-stage production to bring the mystical city of Agrabar to audiences across the country in 2011.  In December, the 2019 Aladdin Tour brought the story of a “street rat’s” efforts to win Princess Jasmine’s heart to Morsani Hall in Tampa’s Straz Center.  

The magical experience began at the doors when guests were met by enthusiastic greeters to be directed to their seats and to various locations inside the center for commemorative pictures.  The adaptation included 11 more songs than the original Tim Rice animated screenplay.

The new songs developed Aladdin’s character, played by Jonah Ho’okano, and motivation to become more than a “street rat” in a rendition of “Proud of Your Boy” which Aladdin emotionally dedicated to his mother. The emotional new songs not only gave the actors more solos but provided insight and back story of the characters that the animated version did not.  

Kaenaon Alani Kekoa’s powerful, yet fluid voice filled the stage in her first song as Jasmine with “These Palace Walls.”  While her solos stood out, her voice was overshadowed and lost in her duets with childhood friend Ho’okano, whose seven years of experience showed in his flawless performance. 

The on-stage adaptation included three friends for Aladdin to fill in for Abu, Aladdin’s monkey sidekick in the animated movie.  However, Babkak (Zach Bencal), Omar (Ben Chavez), and Kassim (Colt Prattes) were irrelevant and seemed to be randomly tossed in throughout the duration of the play.  Prattes’s emphatic voice, however, emerged in his solos of the songs the trio sang and saved the scenes the friends were in, but their roles seemed incongruous and mistimed to the storyline.

Korie Lee Blossey, who played Genie, and Ho’okano had indisputable chemistry.  Their dialogue seemed genuine and flowed naturally as their jokes bounced off each other, like a veteran comedy team.  In one of his scenes with Genie, Ho’okano broke character and laughed at a few of Genie’s jokes before regaining his composure.  The natural friendship between the actors made Aladdin’s scenes with Genie the best part of the play.  

Iago (Reggie De Leon), Jafar’s sidekick, was overly dramatic and his performance took away from what should have been more serious scenes.  His part, like Aladdin’s friends, could have been left out of the show entirely. Genie begged for applause and laughs at the beginning by trying to rally the crowd, seemingly sitting on their hands, after some of his jokes didn’t land.  Although his performance was not comparable to Robin William’s (but then again, whose could be?), he played the part well and tied the scenes together seamlessly.

The sets designed for the play were terribly underdone.  The marketplace was far too simple and the small ensemble didn’t compensate for the lacking backdrop.  The same was true for the scenes in the palace.  

     The palace should have been elegant, as it was the palace of a sultan, but instead was disappointing and simple.  By comparison, however, the scene in the Cave of Wonders was exaggerated, a stark contrast to the rest of the play.  The Cave of Wonders shouldn’t have been the scene to have the large set since it was only used for one scene. The simple sets allowed the elegant and colorful costumes to stand out but was ultimately disappointing.

Nichole Sullivan saw the performance for the second time on December 26th and said, “I like it better than the first time I saw it…I saw it the first time and I think I expected it to be amazing, but I was a little disappointed.”  She said her expectations were lower this time, which made this performance more enjoyable.

“The tour will be coming to a close in April, and the reason being is that this show itself is just too big to fit other stages,” said Matthew Watson, a member of the orchestra.  Michelle West, an ensemble member of the production, explained that the show can only fit a few stages which limits the tour to a few cities in the country. 

Overall, the Broadway adaptation of Aladdin, in true Disney fashion, fulfilled all expectations, providing a unique on-stage Disney experience for Aladdin and Disney fans.