From Misha Berson, Seattle Times theater critic:
The Disney musical “Aladdin,” based on the hit animated movie, opened on Broadway last week. The show debuted at 5th Avenue Theatre in 2011, and in 2013 a revamped version had a pre-Broadway run in Toronto. On both occasions, “Aladdin” received mixed reviews. However, the revised Broadway rendition is faring better with critics, and retains many players from the 5th Avenue cast including Seattle stage veterans Don Darryl Rivera and Brandon O’Neill.
Here are some excerpts from the New York press:
Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: “As directed and choreographed (and choreographed, and choreographed) by Casey Nicholaw, and adapted by the book writer Chad Beguelin, ‘Aladdin’ has an infectious and only mildly syrupy spirit. Not to mention enough baubles, bangles and beading to keep a whole season of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ contestants in runway attire.”
Linda Winer, Newsday: “The carpet flies, kids, and it’s awesome. Aladdin, an urchin from the streets, and Princess Jasmine float far away into the extremely twinkly sky. Such awesomeness, of course, is to be expected from ‘Aladdin,’ Disney’s latest Broadway translation of a beloved animated fantasy. But what’s a whole new world, as the song promises, is the almost modest, down-to-earth human scale of director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw’s big, cheerful production — an enjoyable throwback to old-time musical comedy.”
Marilyn Stasio, Variety: “The magic-carpet ride is magical. The Cave of Wonders is wonderful. And yes, you’ll hear the tunes you loved in the 1992 movie. But the notion that ‘Disney Aladdin’ somehow resurrects the spirit of the late Howard Ashman, who had the original inspiration for the movie and contributed most of its clever lyrics, is a joke. Restoring a person’s work without respecting his artistic sensibility is no tribute at all.”
Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post: “Disney’s new ‘Aladdin’ doesn’t quite catch lightning in a bottle — but it lets a pretty nifty genie out of a lamp. That would be James Monroe Iglehart, in the role memorably voiced by Robin Williams in the 1992 animated hit. Every time this Genie’s on stage, it’s as if ‘Aladdin’ were mainlining Red Bull. Iglehart works so hard during his big number, you fear for his health — that is, when you’re not laughing your head off. And then there’s the rest of the show…The whole vibe is like a throwback to those old Bob Hope/Bing Crosby movies: ‘The Road to Agrabah.’ But the journey may be a short one — leaving the beautiful New Amsterdam Theatre free just in time for the ‘Frozen’ musical to move in.”