Aladdin Flies Onto the Proctors Stage with All the Magic You Hope For￼
SCHENECTADY – When Disney gets behind a project, you can rest assured that nothing is spared. Such is the case with Aladdin, which began its second national tour at Proctors. This production is stunning. From the “curtain”, which is a masterful combination of Persian rugs to get you in the mood for that magic carpet ride, to the costumes, sets, choreography, and the talent of the cast, everything is a magnificent assault on the senses.
Young and old alike, this production offers something for everyone. Children will be mesmerized by the sets, swirling colors, and the songs which have become part of their musical lexicon. The audience at Saturday’s performance was filled with many under the age of 14, who all sat with rapt attention throughout the nearly two-and-a-half-hour production. For the adults, we were treated to the addition of many jokes and gags that will certainly pass over the heads of many of the younger audience members.
The animated 1992 film comes to life on the stage. Songs like “Arabian Nights”, “Proud of Your Boy”, “Friend Like Me”, and of course “A Whole New World”, from the songbook of Alan Menkin’s music and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Conductor James Dodson does a spectacular job of making you believe a full-blown symphony orchestra is playing in the pit.
Director Choreographer Casey Nicholaw has put together a superb cast and technical crew to bring this production to life. Nicholaw’s choreography brings Bollywood to Schenectady in spectacular form. Bob Crowley’s scenic design (particularly the interior of the cave), Natasha Katz’s lighting, and Milagros Medina-Cerdeiva’s make-up all come together to complement Gregg Barnes’s magnificent costumes. From the opening number, the stage is awash in brilliant primary colors, glitter, and some wonderful special effects. The flying carpet certainly does not disappoint.
Of course, any production is only as good as the talent on the stage. This show is packed to the rafters with amazing talent. Anand Nagraj is the menacing Jafar, and menace he does, to perfection. Aaron Choi, as Jafar’s sidekick Iago, is delightfully annoying. Sorab Wadia is the regal, concerned Sultan and father of Jasmine, the princess in need of finding an appropriate husband. Senzel Ahmady is delightful as the strong-willed and frustrated Jasmine.
Jake Letts, Ben Chavez, and Colt Prattes as Aladdin’s “posse” (Babkak, Omar, and Kassim respectively) are willing to defend their friend even when they are not happy with some of his actions. The three are outstanding dancers, athletes, and singers. In fact, my guess is the trio could take their act on the road in character or out, and become hits on their own.
The show is titled Aladdin, and thus the focus is the lovable, somewhat misguided street urchin of the same name who falls in love with Princess Jasmine. Adi Roy is the young actor inhabiting the role. He has a wonderful innocence about him, with a twinkle in his eyes that can be seen to the back of the house. His beautiful tenor voice soars throughout the production.
Yet it is Marcus M. Martin, as Genie, to whom the evening belongs. From his first entrance to his final curtain call, the stage is his. With his deep rich basso booming voice, his asides to the audience, wonderful dancing, and glitter-covered bald head Martin owns the stage in a part he appears born to play.
Together, this cast and production are a sheer joy. The show will spellbind the youngster in us all. At a time when the world may be in a disarray, a few hours spent in Agrabah will make you feel as if the genie has granted you three wishes.
Aladdin is playing at Proctors through Sunday, Oct. 23. For ticket information go to www.proctors.org or call the box office 518-346-6204.