Theatre Review: DISNEY’S ALADDIN – Palace Theatre, Manchester

Yeukayi Ushe and Ensemble in DISNEY’S ALADDIN. Photo Credit: Deen Van Meer.

With its captivating performances, stunning set designs, and beautiful score, Disney’s ALADDIN offers a dazzling and magical theatrical experience on its first UK and Ireland tour.

5 out of 5 stars

After ten years on Broadway and the West End, Disney’s hit musical ALADDIN finally heads to Manchester’s Palace Theatre for its first UK and Ireland tour.

Based on the 1992 animated film, ALADDIN tells the story of a lovable street urchin dreaming of a better life. After finding a magic lamp, Aladdin unleashes a powerful genie who grants him three wishes. With Genie’s help, Aladdin becomes a prince, hoping to win the heart of Princess Jasmine, the sultan’s beautiful daughter. However, the evil sorcerer Jafar plans to overthrow Jasmine’s kingdom, creating obstacles for Aladdin.

Like its theatrical predecessors, THE LION KING, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and FROZEN, this touring production of ALADDIN is a dazzling spectacle filled with magic, comedy, breathtaking sets, and stunning costumes.

Gavin Adams in DISNEY’S ALADDIN. Photo Credit: Deen Van Meer.

Bob Crowley’s stunningly intricate set design is a visual delight, with audible gasps from the audience during the Cave of Wonders scene and the iconic magic carpet ride. Natasha Katz’s striking lighting, Gregg Barnes’s colourful costumes, and Casey Nicholaw’s energetic choreography add to the splendour, captivating the audience throughout.

Key moments from the story are delivered effectively, particularly the magic carpet ride. The ending is reworked, and new characters are introduced, namely Aladdin’s friends Babkak, Omar, and Kasim, who replace Abu the monkey from the original film.

Gavin Adams is charming and natural in the lead role of Aladdin, so much so that it’s hard to believe that this is his debut role. Desmonda Cathabel as Princess Jasmine is equally captivating, balancing femininity with a charmingly bossy undertone. Their chemistry is perfect in all the right moments.

Ensemble in DISNEY’S ALADDIN. Photo Credit: Deen Van Meer.

Elsewhere, Adam Strong’s Jafar is suitably evil without being too scary for children, and Angelo Paragoso’s Iago adds plenty of comedic elements, enhancing the performance.

But the real star of the show is Yeukayi Ushe as the Genie, delivering a unique portrayal that sidesteps the late Robin Williams’ version and offers a fresh take that works wonderfully.

With a beautiful score by Alan Menken, Tim Rice, and Howard Ashman, including songs like FRIEND LIKE ME, A WHOLE NEW WORLD, ONE JUMP AHEAD, PRINCE ALI, and ARABIAN NIGHTS, it’s no surprise that this breathtaking spectacle has been seen by over 14 million people worldwide.

DISNEY’S ALADDIN is theatrical escapism at its shining, shimmering, splendid best. 

DISNEY’S ALADDIN runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, until 7 July 2024