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REVIEW: Disney's Aladdin (2023 UK Tour, premier, Edinburgh)

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Edinburgh Playhouse

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Disney's Aladdin 2023, 2024 UK Tour. Musical Theatre.

Yes! This is exactly what I want from a big budget, Disney musical. Dazzling costumes, bright colours, incredible sets, a brilliant cast and a phenomenal live orchestra. This new UK tour production of Disney's Aladdin is a theatrical cave packed full of glittering wonders. It's spectacular!


Based on the 1992 animated film, and centuries-old folktales including “One Thousand and One Nights”, the stage show remains faithful to the plot of the Disney movie as we follow poor street-urchin Aladdin on his quest to find true love. When Aladdin meets Princess Jasmine and the dastardly Jafar in the markets of Agrabah, he is unwittingly pulled into an adventure where he finds a magical lamp and befriends a riotous genie.


Yeukayi Ushe in Disney's Aladdin UK tour 2023. Photo credit: Deen Van Meer. Musical theatre

All the beloved, iconic characters from the film are here: Aladdin (Gavin Adams), Princess Jasmine (Desmonda Cathabel), Jafar (Adam Strong) and the showstopping big, blue, Genie (Yeukayi Ushe). The soundtrack also (thankfully!) includes many cherished songs from the film including 'Arabian Nights', 'Friend like me', 'Prince Ali', and 'A Whole New World', as well as many new songs by Tony, Olivier, Grammy, Emmy and eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken. They are all gloriously played by the sensational live orchestra conducted by Dave Rose.


This production oozes quality. The costumes are some of the finest I've ever seen. The staging is beautiful but deceptively simple at first, then with some very successful projections and lots of magic, it transforms when needed into physical, breath-taking sets.


The cave scene, and what the Genie quite rightly describes as his 'showstopping number' in Act I is one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen in a theatre. I am consciously not including the wide-angle production photo from that scene as I don't want to ruin the surprise for future audiences. The set, the costumes, the performances, the dancing, the fantastic medley of songs from other Disney musicals; this whole sequence is worth the ticket price alone. It's truly jaw-dropping.


Gavin Adams in Disney's Aladdin UK tour 2023. Photo credit: Deen Van Meer. Musical theatre

In Act II we have the wonder of the flying carpet to marvel at (no, I have no idea how they did it) and even more glittering costumes and sparkling full ensemble numbers. The company of stunning dancers and performers come from all over the world. The leads are great, yes (I'll get to them in a minute!) but there are also fantastic turns from The Sultan (Jo Servi), Aladdin's three friends (Nelson Bettencourt, Adam Taylor and Nay-Nay) and Iago (Angelo Paragoso). It's a finely woven, expertly choreographed, extravaganza of a show and everyone is important, both on and behind stage. Given the size and complexity of the sets, I never once heard any movement or saw the slightest of wobbles. This Aladdin has only just opened and it's already immaculate.


The central performances from Gavin Adams (Aladdin) and Desmonda Cathabel (Jasmine) are delightful. Both engaging and confident, they are the perfect Disney prince and princess. Both are recent graduates of the Royal Academy of Music, and Aladdin marks Gavin Adam's professional debut.


Accomplished theatre veteran Adam Strong is superb as the antagonist, "Disney Villain" extraordinaire, Jafar. As the Sultan's loyal advisor, Jafar holds much power in Agrabah but he desires the Kingdom and the magic lamp for himself. A sinister presence throughout the show, Adam really gets to showcase his sensational voice in 'Prince Ali (reprise)' in Act II. There is a rich, almost Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons tone to his voice that suits the character perfectly and that immediately caught my attention. He has wonderful stage presence and I'll be looking out for whatever he does in future.


Yeukayi Ushe in Disney's Aladdin UK tour 2023. Photo credit: Deen Van Meer. Musical theatre

Just as Robin William's performance as the dynamic genie was the highlight of the 1992 Disney film, so here Yeukayi Ushe steals the show as the bold, blue, wise-cracking spirit. Every second Ushe is on stage is a delight. Ushe was my Lola the one and only time I saw Kinky Boots in the theatre some years ago, and his performance there was so exquisite, so electrifying, I've been a huge fan ever since. I just knew he'd be perfect as the Genie, but I was wrong, he's even better than that! His performance is extraordinary; he is so, so special. The charisma, the chaos, the glee - love love love. What brilliant casting.


Aladdin feels like a pantomime at times, and that is not a criticism. I mean the big, sparkly, event pantomimes that grace the finest stages across the UK every Christmas. The dashing Prince and beautiful Princess kept apart by the scheming baddie (boo!), the hilarious sidekicks, the glittering costumes and the big, all singing, all dancing finale. And just like Panto, Aladdin may well be some audience members first time in a theatre. What a great way to start a life-long obsession!


I can't recommend Aladdin enough. Sure it's Disney, sure it's gentle and fanciful, but we could all do with a bit of escapism at times and Aladdin is the perfect, spectacular stage show for all ages to enjoy.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


🧞 Aladdin plays at Edinburgh Playhouse until 18th November 2023 and then heads out on tour across the UK. Aladdin will be stopping at Glasgow's Theatre Royal from 6th to 30th November 2024.


🎟️ Tickets for all ATG venues (including Edinburgh and Glasgow) can be found here: atgtickets.com


More detail and all venues available here: https://www.aladdinthemusical.co.uk/


📸 Production photos: Deen Van Meer


Disney's Aladdin UK tour 2023. Photo credit: Deen Van Meer. Musical theatre
 

🌟REVIEW: Disney's Aladdin (Musical Theatre, UK Tour, premier, Edinburgh Playhouse 2023)🌟


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Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.

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