UCI to LA: Aladdin at Pantages
By Saad Siddiq
Starting Jan. 10 until Mar. 31, the Hollywood Pantages Theater will be putting on a production of Disney’s “Aladdin.” Returning to play the roles are Adam Jacobs, Michael James Scott and Courtney Reed as Aladdin, Genie and Princess Jasmine, respectively.
The play follows the original storyline, first introduced in 1992, as we watch our beloved street rat Aladdin sing and dance his way into Princess Jasmine’s heart, with the help of Genie, of course. Along the way, we are introduced to new characters such as Omar, Kassim, and Babkak. This trio are lifelong friends of Aladdin, and together, they help Aladdin fight off Jafar and win the Jasmine’s heart. The play also includes many new songs, such as “A Million Miles Away” and “High Adventure,” written by Howard Ashman with music by the legendary Alan Menken.
The play begins with Genie welcoming the audience to “Arabian Nights.” His introduction, laced with humor and warmth, creates a sense of happiness and longing for Genie to return to the stage. Michael James Scott’s portrayal of the character makes many wonder who the true star of the play actually is. As Act I continues, Genie retires to his dressing room while the musical jumps into the well known sequence of Aladdin running through the streets of Agrabah with a stolen piece of bread. However, a few key differences exist between the movie and the show, like how Aladdin is aided and abetted by his trio of friends, who help point out that Aladdin’s mother has just passed away. Though we never do meet his mother, it is understood by the audience that she was an important part of Aladdin’s life, making him a much more relatable character. Aladdin even sings to his mother in “Proud of Your Boy,” a sweet number in which Aladdin tells his mother that someday he’ll become a son she can be proud of. Act I closes out with the return of Genie in a electrifying performance of “Friend Like Me.”
Act II picks up right where Act I left off with an incredibly intricate and bodacious rendition of “Prince Ali.” Act II also sees more of the hilarious pairing of Jafar and Iago, played by Jonathan Weir and Reggie De Leon, as they try to enact their plan to take over the kingdom of Agrabah. Eventually, the play culminates in a rather unspectacular way, as Jafar is finally defeated and Aladdin is crowned Sultan of Agrabah.
The production consistently provided humor and made an already fantastic plot even better. Aladdin and Genie were great as always, but Aladdin’s trio of mischievous friends definitely stole the show. Jasmine, on the other hand, was merely average in that she didn’t necessarily bring anything unique to the role. Mark down “Aladdin” as a win for Disney as it encapsulated the crowd and took them all on a magic carpet ride.