photos by Deen van Meer
The Kimmel Center’s 2017-2018 Broadway season comes to a close with Disney’s Aladdin, a five-time Tony nominee show that is finally making rounds on its first US national tour. Philadelphia has seen some amazing shows this year, all of them just as good- if not better- than being on Broadway. But it’s safe to say that the Academy of Music has saved the best for last with this beloved tale. Now until July 1st, you can experience the far away land of Agrabah with your family…
Though the titular character, Aladdin, may seem like the obvious star of the show, it’s the Genie (played by Michael James Scott) who steals every scene he’s in. The Genie introduces the audience to a land of good guys, bad guys, royalty and “street rats” like Aladdin. You know this story well- Aladdin, who comes from nothing, and the royal princess Jasmine, fall in love…eventually. Of course, there’s the evil Jafar (read our interview with actor Jonathan Weir here) and his sidekick Iago who try to get rid of Aladdin in hopes that Jafar will take over the throne one day. Like all fairy tales, evil vs. good and everything eventually works out in the end. This musical takes us on a humorous, magical and heartfelt journey, making it a must see no matter how many times you may have watched Aladdin before.
Songs from the Disney version are in there, so it’s okay if you feel the urge to sing along. You’ll also discover new music written just for this musical. Aladdin (Clinton Greenspan) and Jasmine (Isabelle McCalla) never fail to hit every note with perfect performances. Their chemistry is real, too, as the couple are an item off stage as well!
Set designs are beautiful beyond words. If you stare at the stage long enough, you’ll forget you’re still in Philadelphia. A stand out scene is during the end of Act 1 when the Genie and Aladdin perform “Friend Like Me”, set in the golden cave. Don’t blink or you’ll miss the most magical performance of the show. Spectacular isn’t a strong enough word to describe it! Also breathtaking- the flying magic carpet during “A Whole New World”.
Seeing Aladdin as an adult revealed some messages that I never noticed before. First and foremost- be true to yourself. This is a message that comes through strongly in many of the Broadway shows I’ve seen this year. Don’t let anyone try to boss you around, tell you what to do or believe, or make you feel like you aren’t worthy of something. Stand up for what matters to you and take time to open up your eyes to someone who may see and experience the world differently than you do. Trust one another. I hope all of the children who come to this show will remember these important factors as they continue to believe in flying carpets and magic genies. I swear, they must exist somewhere!
To learn more and purchase tickets, visit the Kimmel Center’s website.