Daily Herald Guest Critic Sean Stangland of Mount Prospect joined Diana Martinez of Broadway in Chicago to see the production of "Aladdin," playing now through Sept. 10 at Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago. As an enthusiastic Disney fan, Stangland was well-suited to see how the story of a "street rat" can find love and happiness transfers to the stage with song and dance. From all accounts, the show delivers and goes beyond expectations.
"This is a spectacular show," Stangland told Martinez. "I was really bowled over by it."
The music plays well on the stage. "The audience gets so involved in this to the point where there was even a standing ovation halfway through an act ... not even an act break," he said.
For those expecting an exact version of the movie on stage, think again. The entertainment value, while very high in the film, gets a boost on stage with additional humor, some directed at the adults bringing kids to the show. "It's rapid-fire with the jokes," Stangland said. "The show never really lets up."
By Diana Martinez
My wish to the Genie is that every kid in Chicagoland gets to see this show.
Over 3 million people have seen "Aladdin" worldwide and now the North American tour of Disney's "Aladdin" is playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago. Disney's "Aladdin" is truly a magic carpet ride of laughter, spectacle and fantasy. This amazingly beautiful production has an award-winning team, with music by Tony- and eight-time-Oscar-winner Alan Menken.
The brilliant concepts, style and humor are masterfully delivered from a cartoon to the stage by the Tony Award-winning director Casey Nicholaw, who directed "The Book of Mormon." This production team has put together a musical that is visually stunning and entertaining from start to finish.
Each show I invite a Daily Herald reader to be my guest audience critic and give you their take on the show. Sean Stangland of Mount Prospect and I were mesmerized by the thoroughly enjoyable nature of this show throughout every moment. The humor, music, dazzling scenery and sparkling costumes were visually stimulating and entertaining. From the special effects to the fantastic ensemble dancers, the diverse character casting couldn't have been better and it was as if the characters leapt from the cartoon into human form. Especially noteworthy is Anthony Murphy as the Genie, who jumps through vocal hoops in a showstopping standing ovation rendition of "Friend Like Me." Chicago actor Jonathan Weir plays the perfect villain Jafar, with his tall, thin, snarly stature juxtaposed by Reggie De Leon as his funny sidekick Iago, reminiscent of a modern-day Abbott and Costello duo. Adam Jacobs plays a perfectly precocious and dreamy Aladdin and Isabelle McCalla is a precious, feisty Princess Jasmine who teaches young girls the right things to value.
The scenery is spectacular and lavish with technical effects that spark up at the right times with exploding streamers, carpet rides, and gorgeous lighting effects. Due to popular demand, the show has extended its stay in Chicago through Sept. 10. This show truly has something for everyone -- it's filled with romance, humor, fantasy and a showstopping Genie. It runs about 2 hours and 30 minutes and entertains through every moment. If I had a wish, it would be for every grade-school child in the Chicago area to see this production and enjoy a magical carpet ride through this gorgeous fantasy-filled musical.
It's our last review today, so on behalf of the Daily Herald and Broadway In Chicago, I want to thank the amazing College of DuPage Multimedia department, the Daily Herald and Eileen Brown, and especially Neil Waite, Jennifer Schaefer and the amazing Eileen LaCario at Broadway In Chicago for a fabulous opportunity that brought more people and families in the suburbs closer to theater in Chicago. And lastly, I want to thank all of you for reading. It's been an amazing four years, and as always, I hope to see you at the theater soon.
Thanks for reading everyone!