Thunderous applause echoes throughout the Cadillac Palace Theatre as Genie and Aladdin are surrounded by shimmering piles upon piles of gold treasure. Fireworks are shooting off in the background as the chorus dancers tap away also decked out in sparkly gold costumes. This showstopping number, “Friend Like Me,” is only one of the many magical moments in Broadway in Chicago’s ALADDIN. The rest of the show lives up the hype of this being one spectacular show.
Broadway in Chicago Brings a Classic to Chicago
Based on the 1992 Disney movie, this is a story of underdog and poor boy, Aladdin, longing for a richer life. He meets Princess Jasmine by chance as she runs away from her life confined within the palace walls. Sparks fly, but the only way they can be together is if our hero is magically transformed into a prince.
Luckily, evil villain Jafar has managed to put Aladdin in the position to acquire a magical lamp. Once Aladdin rubs the lamp, we meet his new friend, Genie of the Lamp. Genie makes Aladdin into a bonafide prince, spoiling Jafar’s plan to marry the princess and become sultan of Agraba himself. He is not one to be crossed however.
Jasmine, Aladdin, and Genie must defeat Jafar as his power keeps growing. If they can overcome his phenomenal, cosmic power Jasmine and Aladdin can finally get married and Genie freed from the lamp!
Movie Magic and All-Star Cast
It’s tough to watch ALADDIN without thinking about the original movie the entire time. But rest assured, much of the original spirit is still intact with some added bonuses here and there. ALADDIN uses all of the original songs composed by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, along with new music by Chad Beguelin.
Each member of the cast is an absolute delight whenever they’re on stage. Jasmine is still a forward thinking feminist and Aladdin just as charming and wisecracking as the original (played by Isabelle McCalla and Adam Jacobs, respectively).
Genie, played by Anthony Murphy, also steals the show with larger than life personality as well as some well-timed references (a Cubs hat makes an appearance for one).
If you’re a fan of Abu or Raja, you’ll be disappointed to know this show does not have any live monkeys or tigers onstage. However, they’ve added clever sidekicks for Aladdin - fellow street rats Babkak, Omar, and Kassim. Played by Zachary Bencal, Philippe Arroyo, and Mike Longo, these three friends manage to save Aladdin as well as steal the scene with their comic bits and interactions.
Resident villain, Jonathan Weir, is no stranger to kicking off Disney tours in Chicago. Recently seen with The Lion King national tour as Scar, his evil nature is just as welcome here when he plays Jafar. Never dropping his haughty demeanor, he’s a thrill to watch. Accompanying him is sidekick Iago, played by Reggie De Leon. With a penchant for murder, De Leon is hysterical as Iago and has the audience laughing every moment.
All the Broadway Glitz, Glamour, and Sparkle
Everything about ALADDIN from the costumes, to the sets, to the lights, is bright, colorful, and full of life. The chorus is lively and fun in their opening number, “Arabian Nights” and gives the audience a taste of the bustling marketplace in Agraba. This set is impeccably detailed with the various wares offered by the street vendors. In the Cave of Wonders, we’re in awe as the stage is transformed into a completely gold room with food and dancers appearing and disappearing in the blink of an eye.
And of course, ALADDIN wouldn’t be complete without the requisite magic carpet ride. As Aladdin and Jasmine begin their ride, the set melts away and we are then traveling over plains and fields under a starry sky. It’s another stunning visual that takes your breath away!
Though ALADDIN can be a bit cheesy at times, would you really expect anything less from a show produced by Disney? It’s fun for the kids and nostalgic for the adults. ALADDIN is everything you would expect from an over the top musical that has you smiling as you leave the theatre.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Now through September 10
Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm
Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Sundays at 1:00pm &6:30pm
Cadillac Palace Theatre
151 W Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601