–by Ashley Cox
Disney’s Aladdin opened at the Fabulous Fox Theatre on a chilly Tuesday night in Midtown St. Louis December 12th. The show started promptly at 7:30. Those that arrived early watched Wurlitizer demonstrations, browsed the history of the theater in Peacock Alley, or had a commemorative photo taken with Agrabah.
The show was dazzling. The vaguely Indo-Middle Eastern-Saharan city of Agrabah fit perfectly into the vaguely Indo-Middle Eastern-Southeast Asian decor of the Fox. The dancers could have used a bit more space on stage during some of the numbers, squished by the stage size and set pieces but I frequently found myself blinking from the glittering sets and ornate costumes. Sorab Wadia as the Sultan was so bejeweled, he was a Taylor Swift song.
Anand Nagraj’s Jafar and, like any iteration of Aladdin, Marcus M. Martin’s Genie stole the show. They both had amazing stage presence and soaring voices. It was helpful that their characters also seemed to frequently break the fourth wall. The show has a two hour and thirty-minute run time with one fifteen-minute intermission which did wear thin on some of the younger audience. I could hear some passed-my-bedtime meltdowns and see some rushes to the restroom. A kiss on the cheek from Jasmine to Aladdin elicited a “yuck” from a child behind me while she also whispered to her mom “He is my favorite!” every time Aaron Choi’s Iago came onstage. He was indeed a crowd favorite.
Through no fault of the actors, I found myself somewhat let down. This was my first Disney production outside of the groundbreaking Lion King. I expected something similar. How was this creating something new outside of the 1992 classic movie? Lion King expanded beyond the movie with puppetry… this had an extra hour of content but felt rushed and lacking plot development. It expects you to have seen the movie. Abu was replaced with three likewise destitute friends, Omar, Babkak, and Kassim. They had the one bit of shining newness. Their off to rescue song “High Adventure” which will be added to my workout playlist. Colt Prattes’ Kassim takes the lead friend role but Nathan Levy as Omar shines during the number with comedic timing and rhythm.
The show runs through Sunday, the 17th with ticket prices between $29 to $130. Tickets can be purchased HERE. The balcony is a great option for this show so you don’t miss any of the ensembles’ fancy footwork during “Friend Like Me” while orchestra tickets will have you rattled in your seats when Colt Pratts’ booms as the Voice of the Cave.
The next musical in the Fox’s Best of Broadway is Mrs. Doubtfire whose opening night is December 26th.