Theatre Review: Aladdin, a Magical Ride at PPAC

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PPAC’s Aladdin is a brilliant showcase of theatrical performance fueled by a multi-talented cast of characters that bring the Disney classic to life in this new Broadway musical. “Let’s make some magic” the Genie announces before he grants Aladdin’s first wish – which is that’s exactly what this show does.

Based on the 1992 Academy Award-winning animated film of the same name, the production follows Aladdin, a poor street boy who falls upon the magic of a genie to help him win the hand of the princess Jasmine while defeating the evil Jafar – defying all odds against him in the process.

Energetic, entertaining and enchanting are three words that come to mind when seeing Aladdin. The show’s award-winning composer and Disney veteran, Alan Menken, takes the audience on a nostalgia-inducing ride with classic songs from the film. You’ll likely remember many of the lyrics from your own childhood. 

The set designs transform the stage into the exotic land of Agrabah – a mysterious Middle-Eastern kingdom filled with pyrotechnic displays, flying magic carpets and more costume changes than you can imagine.  The amount of time spent on each detail was so impressive that I found myself at times focusing more on the scenic design and wardrobes than the actual performance.

Perhaps what stood out the most about Aladdin was the amount of talent and chemistry displayed throughout the cast.  Kaenaonalani Kekoa, who plays Jasmine, previously worked with the show’s lead, Jonah Ho’okano when they were in high school in Hawaii. Their compatibility is undeniable, and both were perfectly cast for their respective hero/heroine role

In the musical, Ho’okano is called the “Diamond in the Rough” by Jafar (portrayed by actor Patrick R. Brown) and that couldn’t be truer.  He was overwhelmingly charming as Aladdin and his flair for the stage was evident in each and every scene. 

But the star of the show was undoubtedly Korie Lee Blossey, who’s performance of the Genie was without question the audience’s favorite. A boisterous voice with a jovial personality is complimented by deceptively nimble feet for a man of his stature.  His comedic satire and interaction with the crowd seemingly stole the show.

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It would be an injustice to neglect to discuss the choreography in Aladdin.  If Menken’s music is the heart of the show, the dancing is the soul. The show is never short of entertainment and between the sword fights, street chases or ceremonial introductions, it’s hard to pick a favorite. For a cast as well rounded as Aladdin’s, the choreography allowed them to showcase their range of talents, including an unexpected full-ensemble tap dancing number at the beginning of the second act.

Aladdin is incredible. The performance is delightful for the entire family – engaging for children who are engrossed in Disney’s wide world of fairytales, while paired with subtle nuances of adult humor sprinkled in to keep the adults laughing.  It is the type of show where you leave with a smile on your face. With only 9 days left at the Providence Performing Arts Center, it would be a shame to miss this “whole new world” of entertainment!  Ticket information and further details here.