Poof! What does Cleveland need? ALADDIN!

You ain’t NEVER had a friend like ALADDIN! He’s brought the Genie with him to Cleveland, now through May 27, 2018. Together, they are sparkling up the Key Bank State Theatre stage with more glitz and laughs than you’ll find in 1,001 nights (OK, that’s a mix of stories, but you get the point.) It’s fun. It’s floaty. Go see it.

Arabian Nights Men. Photo by Deen van Meer.
Aladdin, the new musical (Toronto)

Unbelievable sights and indescribable feelings come with this touring production, as the glamour of the Kingdom of Arabia and all of its riches are splashed onto the stage. If Disney threw up, it would be made of fabulous lights and sequins, and it would be awesome, and it would be this… ALL. THIS.

Children of all ages will enjoy this stage rendering, having seen the original 1992 animated film or not. The main characters are present as always: Aladdin the street rat (Clinton Greenspan), Jasmine the beautiful princess (Isabelle McCalla), her strict Sultan father (Jerald Vincent), the evil Vizier Jafar (Jonathon Weir), and of course the all-powerful, singing, dancing Genie (Michael James Scott).

Friend Like Me - Michael James Scott (Genie) & Ensemble. Aladdin North American Tour. Photo by Deen van Meer.
Aladdin, the US tour, Michael James Scott (Genie) and entourage

The biggest differences? Disney hasn’t figured out how to train real animals to act on stage, so there are some interesting swaps made in place of them.

The wise-cracking parrot Iago (Jay Paranada) is now a squat little man hopping about at Jafar’s feet. Aladdin’s only friend Abu (a pet monkey) is now a trio of goofball stooges named Babkak (Zach Bencal), Omar (Phillipe Arroyo), and Kasim (Jed Feder). Jasmine’s protective tiger Rajah is now a trio of ladies who kind of form a “squad” of sorts.

Isabelle McCalla (Jasmine). Aladdin North American Tour. Photo by Deen van Meer.
Aladdin, the US tour, Isabelle McCalla (Jasmine)

14 songs were originally written for the 1992 animated movie, but only six made it to final reel. Those six songs also make the stage cut: “Arabian Nights,” “One Jump Ahead,” “Friend Like Me,” “Prince Ali,” “A Whole New World,” and “Prince Ali (Reprise).”

New to the stage is a song only featured in early movie animation tests called “Proud of Your Boy,” in which Aladdin hopes for the approval of his mother (rest her soul). Another includes the peppy yet somewhat annoying “Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kasim” in which the trio and Aladdin introduce themselves and put on a show.

Clinton Greenspan (Aladdin). Aladdin North American Tour. Photo by Deen van Meer.
Aladdin, the US tour, Clinton Greenspan (Aladdin)

Regardless of the song or the dance, the show-stealer is Michael James Scott as the Genie. Some people just know how to make an entrance… every time. If one was to look up the meaning of the phrase, “Oozing with personality” in the dictionary, Scott in this character would be citation #1. He is electric. He is magnetic. He is poofing spectacular. On pointe. On pitch. On par.

Michael James Scott (Genie). Aladdin North American Tour. Photo by Deen van Meer.
Aladdin, the musical, Michael James Scott (Genie)

With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin, and book by Chad Beguelin, this Disney-powered musical is backed by the shiniest lights, the most colorful costumes, the glitziest props, and the most gorgeous sets and effects you can imagine. The Cave of Wonders? BEST. CAVE. EVER. The Flying Carpet? HOW DO THEY DO THAT?!

Friend Like Me - Aladdin North American Tour. Photo by Deen van Meer.
Aladdin, the US tour, Clinton Greenspan (Aladdin), Michael James Scott (Genie)

Bottom line – get on your camel (or however you travel) and get down to Playhouse Square to see Prince Ali, Fabulous He, Ali Ababwa! ALADDIN Tickets and information are available at www.playhousesquare.org or by calling 216-241-6000.  

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