John Szablewski Reviews

Theatre Review: Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre

The North American Touring Cast of Disney’s “Aladdin.”

Wow. Disney does it yet again. Spectacle, glitz, glamor, fantastic effects, brilliant costumes. To say that I was blown away would be an understatement. Disney’s “Aladdin”, now playing at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre is pure magic. It’s an experience. It’s a show that has no dull parts. It’s a show that will rival the longevity of “The Lion King.” Look out ‘Phantom’ I think there is a new sheriff in town.

. . .pure magic. . .a show that will rival the longevity of “The Lion King.”

‘Aladdin,’ based on the highest grossing film of 1992 (that’s right), tells the tale of a street rat who crosses paths with a beautiful and confident princess, who by law, must marry royal blood. After he is sent on a mission to retrieve a magic lamp, Aladdin (Clinton Greenspan), finds a Genie (Michael James Scott) and is granted three wishes. His wish? To become a prince and to win Princess Jasmine’s (Lissa deGuzman) hand in marriage. Sounds traditional right?

Having followed the Broadway production’s journey to Broadway, I was anxious for it to visit Buffalo so that I could see the magic for myself. It lives up to all the New York hype and then some. I think I found a new favorite musical.

All your favorite songs from the film are in the show, including “Arabian Nights,”  “A Whole New World,” and my personal favorite (yeah, I’ve sang it at karaoke and it might be one of my audition songs) “Friend Like Me.” Alan Menken returns to create new music with lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Beguelin. The new songs feel as though they were taken right from the film and complement the songs that we all remember.

The breathtaking sets designed by Bob Crowley and the flashy and glitzy costumes created by Gregg Barnes are characters in their own right, and wow you just as much as the actors on stage do. The magic carpet, is truly magic and you will be scratching your head in astonishment as you see it fly before your very eyes.

Leading the show is the very talented Clinton Greenspan as Aladdin. He sounds just like the animated film character but makes the character his own. He has great leading man qualities, an exciting confidence, but he also possesses a vulnerability that makes his performance ever so more believable. He does not disappoint.

Michael James Scott brings down the house as Genie. Literally. His performance of “Friend Like Me” actually stopped the show and resulted in a standing ovation. I’ve heard legends that standing ovations happen during show stopping numbers, but I never experienced it myself until today. Scott is funny, entertaining, and is a huge personality that you would expect from a role like this. You will absolutely love him.

Lissa deGuzman as Jasmine is perfect. deGuzman has one of the prettiest voices I have ever heard, and she will make little girls everywhere wish that they were her. Her performance of “A Whole New World” is spot on. She is rightfully cast in this role.

Jonathan Wier is hilariously evil as Jafar in this production. Along with Jay Paranada’s Iago, the two create master plans that we all love to watch. The comedic duo keeps the villainous laughter that we would expect from them going all throughout the performance.

Zach Bencal, Philippe Arroyo, and Jed Feder as Babkak, Omar, and Kassim respectfully are very entertaining and they help push the story forward in fun and exciting ways.

Casey Nicholaw’s direction and choreography bring this animated phenomenon to life on the stage. You will be brought to your feet in excitement. Go see this show!

Running Time: 2 Hours 30 Minutes with one 15-Minute intermission.

Disney’s “Aladdin” runs until August 19, 2018 and is presented at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre. For more information, click here.