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Review | Aladdin | Manchester Palace Theatre | 23/05/2024

The early 1990’s were something of a renaissance for Disney, with Aladdin released in 1992, either side of Beauty & The Beast and The Lion King. Now thirteen years since its stage debut, the Tony Award winning musical embarks on its first ever UK and Ireland tour.

Aladdin (Gavin Adams) sees his fortunes turned around when he finds a magic lamp and the genie (Yeukayi Ushe) who lives within it. With Jafar (Adam Strong) hot on his heels to steel the lamp, Aladdin chases love in the form of Princess Jasmine (Desmonda Cathabel), who he doesn’t believe could ever fall for a ‘street rat’ like him.

With music by the incomparable Alan Menken, the score is incredible. Having composed classics from Little Shop of Horrors to The Little Mermaid, you know you are in safe hands. It is brought to life by the most incredible orchestra which transports you to Agrabah, with the opening overture giving you that unmistakable Disney magic from the get go.

Magic is perhaps the best way to describe Aladdin in every sense of the word, from on stage magic tricks to the anticipated magic carpet scene. It will make you believe in magic, no matter your age.

Representation matters, and is often disappointingly lacking on stage (despite theatre fans often and rightly calling this out online). With the leading couple born in Hong Kong and Indonesia, swarms of Asian children can (perhaps for the first time) see themselves represented on stage. Both Adams and Cathabel are brilliant as the leading pair with an undeniable chemistry from the moment their characters meet in the street markets of Agraba. Vocally they are equally strong, with their voices blending beautifully. Rather than playing her as nothing more than a beautiful princess, Cathabel’s Jasmine has spunk! She knows herself and isn’t afraid to go for what she wants in life regardless of what society expects of her.

Yeukayi Ushe’s hilariously camp Genie steals the show, captivating the audience completely. Tackling a character voiced by the late Robin Williams is no enviable task, but Ushe makes the character his own whilst staying true to the character from the animation. His performance of ‘Friend Like Me’ is impressively dazzling, with the majority of the cast involved giving it that true Broadway pizazz! It is worth the ticket price alone to see this 10 minute spectacle.

The show has more than a few moments of breaking the fourth wall. Many of these work well, with gentle nods to pop culture for the adults; from Oprah’s infamous car giveaway to the viral video of Kimberly "Sweet Brown" Wilkins. However, at other times it feels too much and doesn’t work as well. This unfortunately cheapens some moments of the musical, which is otherwise an extremely strong show.

Aladdin does the impossible and not only wonderfully brings the film to life, it elevates it. On at Palace Theatre Manchester until Sunday 07 July 2024, this is a show you don’t want to miss!

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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