Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ musical brings a whole new world of magic to audiences

Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ musical boasts a whole new world of magic

Review: The Broadway show’s touring performance remains enchanting through an altered plot and replaced characters.

Marcus M. Martin (Genie) and Adi Roy (Aladdin) and dancers in the touring production of
Marcus M. Martin (Genie) and Adi Roy (Aladdin) and dancers in the touring production of “Aladdin.”

Aladdin, the sophomore musical in Famous Artists’ Broadway in Syracuse 2023-2024 season lineup, made its fantastical Syracuse debut on Wednesday at the Landmark Theatre

Directed by Andrew Flatt, the touring production takes the ‘90s Disney animated classic and 2019 live-action remake to a whole new world, with several artistic liberties that subtly alter the original plot for the stage. 

If I had three wishes, I’d use them to relive the opening night performances of “Friend Like Me,” “A Whole New World,” and the stage-specific Aladdin/Jasmine duet, “A Million Miles Away:” all standout pieces in their own right. Though any decent first-act finale requires a big finish to make audiences wait out the miles-long bathroom line at intermission, “Friend Like Me” delivered flamboyance at its finest.

Marcus M. Martin (Genie) and dancers in the touring production of
Marcus M. Martin (Genie) and dancers in the touring production of “Aladdin.”

Featuring several glittery costume changes, a sparkling, all-gold backdrop, tap dancing, some sleight of hand and even a slow-jam rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” (which was far less random than it sounds), “Friend Like Me” fulfilled the seemingly impossible pointed-toe shoes of its film predecessors, all while flexing Marcus R. Martin’s (Genie) vocal capabilities. 

While it’s obvious to laud Martin’s jaw-dropping vocal range, Roy’s charming dance skills, Anand Nagraj’s perfectly evil portrayal of Jafar or Aaron Choi’s impeccable comedic timing as Iago the parrot, the true standout is Senzel Ahmady’s performance as Princess Jasmine. 

Senzel Ahmady (Jasmine) and Adi Roy (Aladdin) embrace in the touring production of
Senzel Ahmady (Jasmine) and Adi Roy (Aladdin) embrace in the touring production of “Aladdin.”

Ahmady’s breathtaking soprano vocals layered elegantly over Roy’s in their numerous duets and were exceedingly strong throughout the gravity-defying “A Whole New World,” in which the two belted out the ballad while sitting cross-legged on a flying magic carpet underneath a faux star-studded night sky. Ahmady breathed new life into Jasmine with her solo song “These Palace Walls,” which added a depth to the character I didn’t know I needed until now. 

Throughout it all, the show’s intricate and dynamic set design set the basis of its shocking ability to squeeze the magic onto the Landmark’s stage – a downsize from Broadway – or, in Genie’s words, “phenomenal cosmic powers, itty bitty living space.”

For those who need a refresher, the film versions center around ‘street rat’ Aladdin’s quest to impress the alluring and independent Princess Jasmine and escape the power-hunger of villain Jafar. Yet Aladdin is only able to do so with the help of tufted capuchin and sidekick Abu, alongside a genie and magic carpet. 

The musical adaptation sees Aladdin (Adi Roy) accompanied only by Genie and a ragtag trio of friends, introduced in song as Babkak (Jake Letts), Omar (Nathan Levy) and Kassim (Colt Prattes). This trio dodges the challenge of puppetry necessary to include Abu, Carpet or Rajah, Jasmine’s pet tiger in the movies.

Abu plays a rather critical role in the original movie; though, I have to admit that the liveliness of Aladdin’s three stooges coupled with clever plot rewrites quelled my desire for a traditional bout of nostalgia that I didn’t even miss the little monkey. 

Having grown up with the adventures of the original Aladdin and proudly sporting a Princess Jasmine costume for three consecutive Halloweens as a kid, I’ve admittedly been protective of the magic I loved on-screen. I was skeptical of any future renditions’ ability to capture that same lightning in a lamp. To my surprise, I came away from the show as enchanted and entertained as I was at four years old. 

Aladdin is playing at the Landmark Theatre through Sunday and will be followed by future Broadway in Syracuse shows Hairspray (Jan. 30 – Feb.3), Pretty Woman: The Musical (March 19 – 23), Hadestown (April 16 – 21) and Six (May 28 – June 2).