It was my 27th birthday last week so me and my Mum went up to London to see Aladdin in the West End. We were squeeing in excitement but we prepared to watch the DVD the next day if we needed to cleanse (Spoiler Alert: We needed the cleanse). We saw The Lion King so had very high expectations and while the show was good, it was definitely lacking the magic that The Lion King had. So I thought I would go into why I thought it was good and what could be seriously improved. The play could have been improved via the simple fact that I wish the person next to me would stop staring at me while trumping out the most obnoxious stench every five minutes. Anyway, I’m not a stage director but some aspects were lazy but that will be discussed. Let’s start off with the positives:
As you can see the costumes are bright and vibrant. This really added to the atmosphere of the musical and these were used to fantastic levels in the song Prince Ali where the cast were changing costumes every few minutes to create the illusion of a parade. They were just so jazzy!
The Majority of Songs
I will be complaining about some of the songs which are pretty much the non-film ones. The film songs were done very well. The opening song Arabian Nights was fantastic and really geared the audience up for the show. It had fantastic dancing, vocals and costumes. The Genie (more on him) proved himself in A Friend Like Me and he made the song his own. That must have been tough for the actor as Robin Williams’ boots are extraordinarily difficult to fill. Williams is simply the perfect Genie and to compete with that when it comes to his most famous song is tough but the stage Genie did it very well. The next song that was very well done was A Whole New World, the set was fantastic and the illusion of them flying through the stars over the sea was very well done.
Jafar and Iago
At first I almost shit a brick when I saw Iago as a man after my bitter disappointment of the absent Abu. I was ready to start raging when Iago opened his mouth and started his performance. My rage disappeared as he sounded very much like the original and was excellent. He was sarcastic and sassy just like our beloved Iago. I’m not saying I want a copy and pasted version of the film on stage but Iago was always one of my favourites and I think I would have found it difficult to accept a clearly human Iago who had a totally different personality.
The same goes with Jafar, he was perfect! Jafar is one of my favourite Disney villains and I would have been devastated if his sarcastic sass was not appreciated. Thankfully it is and his costume was always beautiful. However, Jafar will be included in the bad as well, my beloved Jafar gets well and truly shafted.
To take over a role that is so heavily associated with a beloved actor must have been daunting. However, the Genie was simply fantastic. What I liked was the complete opposite of Iago. The Genie made the role his own rather than be an imitation Robin Williams. It was a wise decision to go with that as I don’t think many people would appreciate a knock off version that looks like they are ripping off Williams, as after all most of Genie’s jokes were adlibbed in the film due to Williams’ comedic prowess. It would not have worked if they tried to copy that style completely. The essence of Robin William’s Genie is there and is celebrated but the actor truly makes this role his own. He absolutely smashes his designated songs and thank goodness as they are the best!
The Cave of Wonders
I cannot fault the actual cave as it was very well done. The tiger face was excellent and I think they did well with the limitations of the stage. You still feel that ominous and foreboding feeling that you get from the film.
Now it is time for the bad. I feel bad as West End Musicals aren’t cheap but me and my Mum always said that if there were things that didn’t impress us then we would say. So I may sound like a shrew who finds no joy in anything but that isn’t the case as there were sadly glaring problems with this play.
Where the Fuck is Abu, Raj and Carpet?!?!
I know that the stage is different but puppetry is a thing! Raj and carpet could have been easily accomplished if they had just taken tips from The Lion King. Raj is replaced by a harem who do nothing but praise Jasmine and have no purpose. Carpet does not appear till A Whole New World and is literally a carpet. Carpet had such characterisation despite being a mute character and he was relegated to just furnishings.
The worst though is Abu, yes it may have been difficult to have a monkey on stage, fine then just cut the entire character out. Do not include three new characters who serve no point whatsoever and just enrage me to no end. They do nothing but tell Aladdin how awesome he is and then for about seven seconds tell him he is a douche for lying and then have a stupidly long song where I may have fell into a coma for them just to blindly love him again. All they do is scream about being poor and how funny they are. No! Go away, you fanon losers are just not wanted. It also enraged me that the one plus sized woman in this stupid group does nothing but shout out food items and eat.
HAHA!!! THE BIGGER WOMAN LIKES FOOD BECAUSE SHE IS FAT!!! AHAHAHA!! LAUGH!! IT’S FUNNY!
No. It is not funny that the only woman who is not a small size is the one who can only think about food. It’s offensive and a pathetic attempt at a funny joke. It’s shit like this that makes plus size women or even just women who are not model thin feel shit about themselves and develop eating disorders. Yes, Disney has been known for being offensive about size but we are in 2017, can we please just stop belittling people about their weight? Also it is worth noting that the only plus sized woman is always dressed in masculine clothes. Queen Latifah owned her sexy dress in Chicago and proved that it doesn’t matter what your size is as you can look sexy and own it. Not in Aladdin, apparently. When you are slim then you can have all the sexy clothes but God forbid you are bigger then into the sack clothes you go!
The Pointless Fannon Songs
This point links into the next. There were so many new songs that seemed so beyond lazy that I started to zone out. They were lazy because they all sounded like that God forsaken film that I hate:
GET THAT THING AWAY FROM ME!!
I hate being reminded of that crap. There are other styles then stupidly peppy shit that makes me want to burst my own ear drums. The one that I take real issue with is the song with the three morons as they decide to go off and save Aladdin from prison and take over ten minutes to sing about it! They fight and sing forever while the plus sized one fights with a turkey and eats it. *Throws Chair* It was vaguely enjoyable at first but it would not end and that pisses me off because:
Jafar is Completely Shafted!
One of my favourite moments in the film is when Jafar gets the lamp. I love the reaction from Genie, his tormenting of the characters and then his downfall. It is developed and just pure awesome. Not in this. I swear to God that his retrieval of the lamp and his downfall happen in the space of five minutes. It was so rushed! We never see Jafar awakening the Genie and the awesome of Jafar is a moron who uses his first wish to imprison Jasmine which is a total waste of a wish as surely using the cannon wishes in the film makes more sense. I will run down what happens in script style:
Jafar: Haha, I have Jasmine and I am so tots going to wish to be Sultan.
*Changes Outfit to be Sultan*
Jafar: *Is Awesome* Aladdin is tots a peasant. Look at it!
Aladdin: Genie, is like so more powerful than you. You should like, totally be a genie! *wink wink nudge nudge*
Jafar: *Le Gasp* He is like, so totally right. Genie, make me a genie, like, now.
*Becomes a Genie*
Aladdin: Ha! You have to live in a lamp.
Jafar: Like, totally lame, dude.
What the hell is that!?! No snake? No waste land? No hour glass? It was just, nothing! This is why I hate the fanon songs so much. They could have been cut so the finale did not suck so badly. You do not waste time on stupid songs that have no place and then completely shaft the climax and villain. They are what makes the show! The confrontation is vital and yes they could have done the snake in the same fashion as the cave of wonders where it appears in the back. Replace a tiger face with a giant snake face, it is not that hard. Why have a great climax when we can have someone eating a turkey. Also these morons have the bright idea of putting an evil and all powerful genie, which many people have witnessed, in the dungeon where anyone can get it. Yeah, that’s a great plan.
Aladdin Pisses Me Off
First off, all he does is piss and moan about how he wants his Mummy to be proud of him even though she perished many moons ago. He sings about it constantly! I was getting serious Christian Grey vibes and I do not appreciate that.
He was also pretty pervy with Jasmine, especially in the market place. He spends most of the time singing about how he wants to tap that piece of arse (PG version of course). He does back track and say he fancies her mind but yeah, he is a creepy perv and that doesn’t sit well with me.
Also without Abu (Where the fuck is Abu!?), Aladdin comes across as a stupid moron in the Cave of Wonders. What part of touch nothing do you not understand! At least in the film it is explained away as Abu is a greedy, little monkey and couldn’t help himself. In the musical Aladdin is told constantly not to touch things and he sees a bit of Jade and is dazzled as Jasmine touched Jade so therefore he has to touch it and traps himself in the cave. Zero sympathies as that was stupid.
In all honesty, this musical felt like an expensive panto. West End shows can do amazing things with props and sets, again look at the The Lion King. Aladdin lacked this, yes the costumes were amazing but that was it. There were very few WOW factors that you get. Yes, A Whole New World was fantastic but many other parts were lacking. However, Prince Ali sort of proves my point as yes the costumes were dazzling but the feelings of parade grandeur was gone. They could have had an elephant *cough*The Lion King*cough* and a menagerie rather than people walking in and out in new costumes. I hated that there was no Jafar snake and other things that felt like they were omitted because of laziness. I have said before like I don’t like being dazzled by the superficial when other parts are lacking and need to be improved. I feel like I was meant to have been dazzled by costumes and forget about the rest.
I may have discussed the negatives in more detail than the positives but that is just because there is more to discuss when it comes to the negatives. I did enjoy myself and I had a wonderful birthday but I can’t just mindlessly say this show is amazing as it wasn’t. There were many aspects I enjoyed but others that I found bitterly disappointed and my opinion may have been different if the ending was fleshed out like the film and not rushed because so much pointless fluff filled the rest. The sad thing is though, is that Disney knows they can just plop a well-loved film on the stage and people will pay the high ticket prices to see it. It almost seems that they know that they don’t have to put a huge amount of effort in it but will make a fortune as it is a well-loved franchise. Sounds awfully like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I would not advise seeing this play but I am glad I saw it. Yet, I do feel like that I wouldn’t see another Disney based musical but I do have the movies so I am happy.
Next up, is the continuation of Life and Death where we get to see Beau obsessing over Edythe. I only have one word to describe how I feel about that:
Thank you, Jafar!