It’s big, it’s glitzy and even has tap dancing in the harem. It is “Aladdin,” and it is at the Kennedy Center through Sept. 7.
Telling the age-old tale from “1001 Arabian Nights,” and recreating the Academy Award-winning 1992 animated film, Disney has brought all the wonder and warm fuzzy feeling to the stage.
First playing on Broadway in 2014, “Aladdin” quickly became a blockbuster show, breaking 14 records at the New Amsterdam Theatre, with more than 10 million people seeing it on Broadway and in Tokyo, Germany and London in addition to its two U.S. productions.
The same sentimental songs that garnered Academy Awards for the music from the film, such as the hit “A Whole New World” by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle, are performed live by the talented multicultural cast.
Starring as Aladdin, the affable thief, is Clifton Greenspan, who falls in love with Princess Jasmine, played by Hawaiian native Kaenaonalani Kekoa. The two bring youthful enthusiasm, priceless humor and strong, soaring vocals to the beloved roles. Major Attaway, a seasoned actor, steals the show as the Genie, finally freed from his lantern and delivering the most and best jokes throughout the spectacular and stupefying musical.
Special effects, which one would naturally expect from an expensive Disney production, still do not fail to awe the audience. From a ceiling raining down shiny streamers, to the magic flying carpet, “Aladdin” brings out the curious child even in the adults in the audience.
Complete with big song-and-dance numbers and music created specifically for the stage production, the five main songs from the movie are well-placed. Between shirtless turbaned dancers and swirling veiled ladies dressed in lavish costumes designed by Gregg Barnes, and the ever-changing, larger-than-life sets designed by Bob Crowley, enough is going on beyond the singing and the boy-meets-girl love story.
The Alan Menken/Tim Rice music from the animated “Aladdin” and the fable itself has led to other incarnations, including the 2019 film version with Will Smith. But the exotic fantasy is like smooth butter under the direction of Casey Nicholaw, as the scenes flow flawlessly through the two-hour-plus production.
The animated film version released by Disney was a critical success and box office smash, becoming the highest-grossing film of that year. It won the Oscar for Best Original Score and featured “A Whole New World,” which won the second of the film’s two Academy Awards as Best Original Song and soared to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
While the abundant children in the audience ooohed and ahhhed throughout the production, even the adults seemed wide-eyed, guffawing at the slapstick humor and becoming immersed in the full entertainment package that is “Aladdin.”
“Aladdin” plays at the Kennedy Center Opera House through Sept. 7. Tickets and showtimes are through Sept. 7 in the Opera House with 7:30 p.m. with performances Tuesday through Sunday evenings and 1:30 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and Sundays. VIP ticket packages, which include prime seat locations, a commemorative souvenir program and an exclusive merchandise item, are also available.
For more information, go to the Kennedy Center website, www.kennedy-center.org, or call 202-467-4600 or 800-444-1324.