Like everyone else, I freaking love Aladdin. I wanted this Australian production to – well – to sing. And it did. I wanted it to be just like the movie. And it was.
First, salaam and good evening, and a warning: there’s no Apu. Iago (Aljin Abella) is a person, not a parrot. But he and his boss, evil royal vizier Jafar (Adam Murphy) are fantastic — I don’t know how they keep it together when they’re doing their ‘evil laughter’ routine. I certainly lost it. And the script is peppered with cute references to monkeys and parrots in honour of the missing furred and feathered sidekicks.
Also, you get bonus songs. Not bonus songs written years later to bulk out a musical version, but songs by the original songwriters Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who also wrote the soundtracks for The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. These songs were only cut from the original movie because the movie had to take childish attention spans into account.
My favourite is Proud of Your Boy. In the original movie storyboards Aladdin sung this to his mother, promising to one day be good and stop stressing her out by stealing bread at the markets. She was later cut, the sequence never fully animated, but it was storyboarded in a series of lovely, tender drawings.
In the musical, the song appears as though Aladdin’s singing to his dead parents. Aladdin (Ainsley Melham) fills it with sweet pathos, and the various reprises throughout the show tie the story together and add emotional depth.