REDISCOVER THE WORLD OF MAGIC
ADAM JACOBS as Aladdin Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
By Iride Aparicio
Photos: Deen Van Meer
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Maybe we, the so called “adults”, had never left completely “The world of Magic” that we visited as children. Maybe, deep down in our subconscious minds, we still long for a Fairy Godmother that will solve all our problems with a single stroke of her magic wand. Maybe we need a magician mentor, like Merlin, or a genie living in a lamp as Aladdin had.
The thought came into my mind as I was sitting inside the SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco at the Press Opening Night of the Disney’s hit Broadway’s musical ALADDIN. It was then when I observed that as ANTHONY MURPHY, playing the role of “Genie,” was singing “Arabian nights” as the stage was being transformed into a colorful Arabian Market, the spellbinding effect made many adults in the audience stand up, smile, and start clapping their hands with the enthusiasm often experienced by children. After a few seconds, those standing sat down and willingly enter the world of Magic.
The cast of Disney’s ALADDIN representing an Arabian Market
And the entertaining family-oriented musical was magical. The Scenic Designs of BOB CROWLEY, combined with the exotic costumes designs of GREGG BARNES makes each scene, look like the illustrations in the pages of the story collection of Arab, Turkish, Persian, Greek and Indian sources known as “The Thousand and One Nights” where the story of Aladdin was written.
Disney’s ALADDIN, originated when Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of THOMAS SCHUMACHER, adapted the l992 Disney’s film ALADDIN, to make a musical. The book for the work was written by CHAD BEGUELIN, the music by ALAN MENKEN, and the lyrics by HOWARD ASHMAN and CHAD BEGUELIN.
In the San Francisco tour, the starring role of Aladdin, is played by ADAM JACOBS, a young Half Moon Bay’s native, who originated the role on the show’s first out- of town tryout in Seattle in 2011, and continued playing the role on Broadway until February of this year, when he joined the tour.
We first meet Aladdin, in the musical, as a young thief stealing bread and fruits in the Arabian market with three other boys, But the character acquires tridimensionality after singing two songs: “One Jump Ahead” in which he shares his philosophy with the audience by telling us (in the lyrics of his song) that he intends to keep one jump ahead of the breadline and one swing ahead of the sword (the police soldiers) by stealing only what he cannot afford (which is everything) because he has been forced to steal to eat, and he has to eat to live. The other one, "Proud of your Boy" after his mother dies. Changed, (this time addressing the song to his dead mother) he tells her that he now realizes that he has wasted his life by being a “rotten” kid, but that he is going to change to make her be proud of him.
How he changes, and the reason why he changes is magical, and it happens inside a cave represented in the musical with fanfare and in a breath-taking set.
L-R ANTHONY MURPHY and ADAM JACOBS center, inside the magic cave
The story takes a new turn and introduces new characters, among them his friends: Babkak (ZACH BENCAL) Omar PHILIPPE ARROYO) and Kassim (MIKE LONGO) who this time are "ministers" working in the court of Prince Aladdin. There is also a Sultan (JC MONTGOMERY) in the story, who wants to marry Jasmine his rebel daughter (ISABELLE MCCALLA) with a man she doesn’t love, and two Antagonists to the Sultan (one wants his throne) and to Aladdin, represented by Jafar (JONATHAN WEIR) and his helper Iago (REGGIE DE LEON).
And continuing the magic of the story there is The Lamp which could grant only three wishes, but not "love" and the flying carpet, which gives Princess Jasmin the opportunity to soar over the palace’s walls that had imprisoned her all her life. It is a magic moment, when she sits on the carpet and literally flies on a dark blue sky surrounded by millions of stars.
The music of the musical is varied. It has some Jazzy rhythms and others that sound more Latin than Arabic. It also inbludes the winning song “A Whole New World” where Jasmine is promised that from now on, she is going to have new horizons to pursue and see hundred thousand things with Prince Aladdin.
L-R ISABELLE McCALLA as Jasmine and ADAM JACOBS as Aladdin
Under the direction of CASEY NOCHOLAW the musical runs smoothly from beginning to end. On Opening Night, Everything went well.. The music (BRENT-ALAN HUFFMAN) was rhythmic, the singing was tuned, the acting looked realistic and the dancing was well rehearsed. The sets, specially the golden cave are creative, the costumes are colorful and the special effects, specially the flying carpet, marvelous.
The musical's plot, a combination of intrigue, and love, is entertaining enough to keep the children and adults sitting at the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next . Yet, at the end, what wins the hearts of the audience, is the love story of a rebellious princess and an orphan boy, who were brought together with the help of a genie who lives inside a lamp. It is Magic.
DISNEY’S ALADDIN will play at the SHN ORPHEUM THEATRE 1192 Market Street in San Francisco until January 7, 2018. For tickets you can go online to www.shnsf.com or call 888-746-1799.