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Aladdin Jr (Green)

by on 30 March 2022

Whisked Away to an Amazing Experience

Aladdin Jr.

by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin

Dramacube Productions, Twickenham Green Cast at Hampton Hill Theatre until 2nd April

Review by Evie Schaapveld

Evie Schaapveld is one of our younger reviewers.   Twelve years old, she acts with a number of local stage companies.

From the cold, dark streets of Hampton Hill, I was magically whisked away into the warmth of the dusty, magnificent land of Agrabah where the wishes of a young boy would soon come to fruition, but not without a few bumps in the road.

As the curtain opened, there was an ominous message from Jafar, the evil Royal Vizier to turn off your mobile phone, which was scripted and delivered in an amusingly original way, and then we were whisked away into the blissful starry night in Agrabah, and an opening number as cheerful as the Genie himself (played with incredible enthusiasm by Megan Went).  The opening was a very good introduction to all the characters, and one of things that I noticed straight away were the colourful and believable costumes, along with the choreography of the whole company. 

After this we were introduced to the main protagonist Aladdin, a young street urchin (played authentically by Gael De Bonnieres), and his lively friends, who then performed One Jump Ahead very well.  After a quick getaway, we were then treated to Aladdin’s heart-warming song about his parents and making them proud, called Proud of Your Boy.  The musical numbers were a mixture of well-known songs from the Disney film and songs that I hadn’t heard before.

After a quick transition from the market place to the palace, involving the clever and effective use of the changing backgrounds being projected onto the cyclorama, we meet a few memorable characters in the palace, like the Sultan (Teodoro Di Benedetto), Jafar (Esme Mcdowell) and Jafar’s side-kick Iago (Greta Frasson) – I thought they were very good and amusing as a comedy trio.  We also meet Princess Jasmine (Rosie Preedy) who is being forced into marriage and has strong opinions about this.  As one of the main characters, the actor for Jasmine was very believable and she had a very strong singing voice as demonstrated in her rendition of These Palace Walls sung tunefully along with her handmaidens.

After this song, the Princess escapes the palace and is rescued by Aladdin, and they become entwined in love, but their happiness is soon disrupted by the guards.  Princess Jasmine reveals her identity, and Aladdin is also ‘rescued’ by his so called uncle, who is actually Jafar in disguise, who needs him to enter the Cave of Wonders to retrieve the lamp.  After being tricked to go into the cave, which was cleverly constructed with the background projection changing from opaque to partly see-through by clever use of theatrical gauze and lighting effects, he then finds the lamp but becomes trapped in the cave after taking a necklace for Jasmine.  He rubs the lamp, causing the Genie to appear, cueing the well performed spectacular musical number Never Had a Friend Like Me.  After explaining the rules of the wishes, Aladdin subtly tricks him into escaping the cave without using a wish, and then Aladdin wishes to be a Prince, transporting us into the next high octane musical number Prince Ali.  This was another beautifully choreographed jaw-dropping whole company performance, including lighting effects using a disco ball, which was a marvellous idea.

Princess Jasmine overhears a discussion between Prince Ali (aka Aladdin) and the Sultan, and storms off in an outrage.  Aladdin finds her and they go on a wonderful carpet ride singing, what is debatably the most famous song from the Disney film, A Whole New World.  I do think that the choreography of this song could have made more use of the illusion of flying, but overall this was a very well-acted number, which again made full use of the backdrops and special lighting effects.  After this, Jafar and Iago find out that Prince Ali is actually the diamond in the rough, Aladdin, and they then steal the lamp and Aladdin is arrested, leading onto the song High Adventure, memorably performed by his three friends (Ramona Sleight, Dixie Jenner and Harry North), who seemed to particularly enjoy performing this fun song.

Then we are taken to the Sultan’s palace where Jafar uses a wish from the lamp to become the Sultan.  Aladdin tricks him into using his last wish to become the most powerful Genie himself, which in turn traps him in a lamp.  Aladdin uses his final wish to free the Genie, and the Sultan changes the law so that Jasmine can choose her own husband, and she chooses Aladdin.  The ending of the show was very memorable and every actor had their time to shine in the Finale.  Every actor tried their best and there was some lovely acting and incredible special effects, and all-in-all this show was an amazing experience.

Evie Schaapveld, March 2022

Photography by Bomi Cooper

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