Graeme Isaako as Aladdin with Shubshri Kandiah as Jasmine – James Green
After catching the live action film just a couple of weeks ago, a friend wondered why I would bother watching Aladdin The Musical and head all the way down to Marina Bay Sands’ Sands Theatre for it. “The story and the songs will be similar, or even the same, so why bother?” she shrugged her shoulders. I acknowledged her point. After all, cinemas are so convenient – in terms of where they are located, number of show times and of course, price. And after listening to her thoughts on it, I started to second guess my decision: am I really not going to gain anything from a live musical experience?
But once the live band started playing familiar chords and melodies, I started to sway in beat and I know that this is going to be a magic carpet ride to remember.
No stranger to childhoods all over the world, Aladdin is a story of friendship, love and hope. The titular character (Graeme Isaako) is a street rat who meets Princess Jasmine (Shubshri Kandiah) of the fictional city of Agrabah in the market place one day. Meanwhile, Jafar the Royal Vizier (Adam Murphy) is plotting a way to become Sultan together with his evil sidekick Iago (Doron Chester, who was hilariously good) by his side. From chance meetings to cunning plots, Aladdin’s life starts spiralling out of control. With his three friends Kassim, Babkak, Omar (Rob Mallett, Troy Sussman, Adam Di Martino respectively) and the all powerful Genie, will Aladdin succeed in winning Princess Jasmine’s hand in marriage while staying true to who he is?
Music is the backbone of every musical, otherwise a play would have sufficed. The live band for Aladdin The Musical was stellar, hitting note after note in their rhythmic glory. Every song was robust and travelled across the theatre with ease. I did not have to struggle to listen and be a part of this journey. It was simply music to our ears while the set and costumes pleased our eyes in every scene. Filled with colour, sequins and every texture thought possible, there were 337 costumes throughout the 130 minute musical. The sets were grand and lavish as well, matching the details and care put into the outfits.
It was obvious that no expense was spared when it came to wanting to make magic happen on stage, especially for a musical that revolved around the supernatural and extraordinary.
I think my favourite scene was easily the performance of the song Friend Like Me. Besides magic tricks, illusions and fast-paced scene changes that were executed flawlessly, there were about three to four dance numbers ranging from tap dancing to ensemble work in just this one song. The ensemble did an incredible job of manipulating the props they had to use while keeping in step with the music.
A special mention to Sasha-Lee Saunders, who had the greatest voice in the ensemble and held amazing presence whenever she was on stage. I almost wished she had a greater role which would have placed her on the forefront more in this storytelling.
If you need any other reason to catch Aladdin The Musical, the Genie perfected by Gareth Jacobs will be it. Entertaining, larger than life and just so energetic, he nailed the role in every single scene. No punchlines were missed and every moment was a hit with the audience. I could not stop laughing at the jokes done and it was fantastic to get Genie to kick off the entire musical.
As a performer, Gareth really managed to built a good rapport with the audience within the first five minutes and that became a gift that kept on giving until the musical ended. It is not always the case that a performer is able to hold onto the audience’s attention and ensure that the pay off’s worth it.
I was indeed lucky to witness this magic live on stage, and to remember why live performances are simply so much better than being in a cinema.
So relive your childhood, remember magic and check out Aladdin The Musical this weekend!
Aladdin The Musical
Date: 21st July – 1st September 2019
Venue: Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands
Time: Tuesday – Saturday, 7.30pm / Saturday, 2pm / Sunday, 1pm & 6.30pm (Friday, 9th August’s performance will be at 2pm.)
Admission: From $68 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)