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All star cast shines in Broadway production

Braden Bell | The Feather Online

Fresno Christian choir students visited the New Amsterdam theatre to watch the Broadway production of Aladdin.

Performed live in the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway in New York City; Disney’s production of Aladdin brought a classic story to life using comedy and extravagant actors. Aladdin, the Disney movie, was originally made in 1992. The musical has been on Broadway for four years since 2014 in the New Amsterdam Theater. The team who made the play has won over 20 Tony Awards collectively.

The musical starred an all star cast including Telly Leung as Aladdin, Major Attaway as Genie and Arielle Jacobs as Jasmine. These characters brought the play to life singing classic songs such as “Prince Ali”, “A Whole New World”, and “Friend Like Me”. In the play, their were 337 hand crafted costumes designed by Tony Award winner Gregg Barnes.

Around the world over 4 million people have seen this musical. Over 84 pyrotechnics, illusions, and effects were used in the play to intrigue the audience. Director Thomas Shcumacher and composer Alan Menken created a comical play which brought a lot of laughter and cheers from the audience. As the lights dimmed and the show started, I anticipated the classic songs I knew brought to life in this stunning musical.

Act one opened up with the Genie center stage where he led the opening act, “Arabian Nights” with the background of the ensemble. The song included dancing, ribbon twirling and singing. The song explained the setting of the play and the plot. I enjoyed the liveliness and the organized commotion in this song. It smoothly transitioned into the rest of the play while informing the audience on what was happening.

Act one continued with classic songs including “Proud of Your Boy”, “These Palace Walls” and “Friend Like Me”. I personally enjoyed the song “Friend Like me”; The Genie (Major Attaway) brought a lot of comedy to the show. Including jokes that referenced modern events. The Genie played a massive role in developing the main character Aladdin (Telly Leung).

Aladdin, at the beginning of the play, wanted to be more than he was. Starting out as a street peasant, Aladdin was orphaned for most of his life. He expresses his emotions toward himself in his solo song, “Proud of Your Boy”. This song is sung toward his deceased mother. He wishes he could become someone famous so that his parents would be proud of him.

Overall I thought this was an outstanding play that brought together Broadway worth content with modern day comedy. The cast was outstanding and the musical talent was fabulous. I was amazed at how the Disney Theatrical Productions and Director Thomas Shumaker were able to bring this classic movie to life on stage. — Carston Saelzler

Then their is Jasmine (Arielle Jacobs), daughter of the Sultan (J.C. Montgomery), the King of Agrabah. She feels like she is in prison in her overprotective fathers luxurious palace. She shares her emotions with the crowd in her solo song “These Palace Walls”. She eventually gets up the courage to escape the palace and go explore the not so nice side of Agrabah. While in the street market she meets Aladdin, the street thief. They end up falling in love, which goes against their backgrounds.

That is where the Genie and Jafar come into play. Jafar is King Sultan’s advisor who secretly wants to take over as king of Agrabah. Jafar finds out of the Genie’s power in a sacred book. He learns that the Genie bottle is in a mystic cave just outside of Agrabah. But the book says that only the diamond in the rough (Aladdin) can enter the cave to retrieve the bottle. Jafar’s search for Aladdin is sung in the song “Diamond in the Rough”.

Jafar takes Aladdin to the cave to get the bottle, and Aladdin ends up getting trapped inside the cave. Aladdin learns of the Genie’s power which is to grant anyone three wishes. Excluding making someone fall in love and bringing someone back from the dead. In explaining his power, he sings it in the hit song, “Friend Like Me.” In the song there was dancing and many costume changes of the ensemble in the background.

After that, Aladdin wished that he could become a prince so that Princess Jasmine would be proud of the man she fell in love with. So the Genie made Aladdin, Prince Ali. Act one ends with reprises of “Arabian Nights” and “Proud of Your Boy” with duets of Genie and Aladdin which left audience members looking forward to act two. I enjoyed act one and the comedy that came with it. The singing was fantastic and the comedy was amazing. As the intermission began I was anticipating what the second act would bring to the stage.

Act two began with Prince Ali (Telly Leung) and his posse entering Sultan’s palace. Aladdin’s old peasant friends, Babkak, Omar and Kassim telling the palace of the grand Prince Ali, in the song “Prince Ali”. The Genie and the Ensemble also assisted in track. Sultan, Jasmine’s father, ends up liking Prince Ali, not knowing that it is actually Aladdin. But he says that Prince Ali has to let his daughter to fall in love with him. In the past the princess has rejected every single prince that has been offered to her.

Blake Deffenbacher | The Feather Online

Choir students watch Aladdin on their trip to New York City. No photos were allowed to be taken inside of the theatre.

What Prince Ali didn’t know was that Jasmine wanted the peasant man she had met in the street market. Not some dazzled prince. Aladdin had to come clean with her about his other identity Prince Ali and the truth. He took her on a wild carpet ride through Agrabah. This well-known scene and song “A Whole New World” was displayed on stage using many different pyrotechnics and special effects. It was very cool to watch how using different techniques to make the eye see things certain ways could change your view of what was happening on stage.

After Aladdin confessed to Jasmine she forgave him and they ended up falling in love again. But little did they know that Jafar had kidnapped the Genie and used him to make him King of Agrabah. But Jafar wanted more. So for his last wish he made himself a Genie thinking that he would become all powerful. But being a Genie makes you trapped inside the bottle. The Genie (Major Attaway) was free at last after Jafar became the new Genie. The bottle was then put away forever.

The play ended with the wedding of Aladdin and Jasmine with the two reprises of the songs “Arabian Nights”, and “A Whole New World” sung by the entire cast or company. Overall I thought this was an outstanding play that brought together Broadway worth content with modern day comedy. The cast was outstanding and the musical talent was fabulous. I was amazed at how the Disney Theatrical Productions and Director Thomas Shumaker were able to bring this classic movie to life on stage.

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Carston Saezler can be reached via email.

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