By Susan Gale
Go for the magic carpet ride.
Disney’s Aladdin, currently showing at the Providence Performing Arts Center through November 10, 2019, is worth going to for a bit of stage magic where two members of the cast fly around a huge starry sky with a giant moon and shooting stars. It creates a dreamy scene indeed, as does a giant golden snake cave that Aladdin enters, which buzzes and turns many different colors.
Aladdin is the story of a hapless former thief who finds a genie in a lamp and seeks to make all his dreams come true. Hilarity – specifically Disney’s type of hilarity – ensues. Energetic sword play is just the start for this musical.
This show comes with spectacular bright colors, shiny costumes (sequins everywhere!), and lots of movement to keep the kids watching but also can be very loud at times with thunder, lightening bolts, and fireworks. It’s not really appropriate for younger children (under three or so) or those who are very sensitive to loud noise. But for many kids, Aladdin was a fun night out.
There were kids dressed to the nines and others wearing jeans. Families – including adults – posed with a genie lamp and large screen Aladdin sign. Many carried around teddy bears dressed as the show’s genie. There are plenty of things to buy at a show like this, at theater inflated prices, but PPAC kept the wares up high out of kid’s reach, so kids don’t have to see them if you don’t want them too – just don’t spend too much time in the main lobby.
Even if you choose not to buy extra things and they have everything from genie lamps to Christmas ornaments and shirts, Aladdin is a fun show for kids. It offers a fast-paced story with many dance numbers – some of which pay homage to different types of dance and even past musicals – from tap dancing to a nod to A Chorus Line, a long-running 70’s musical about dancers.
Aladdin has one intermission and is about 2 hours long. The cast is dressed as Disney envisions Arabia – the men have open shirts and the women’s costumes remind of belly dancers – but there isn’t too much that you’d have to worry about with the kids. There is no swearing and some of the humor – in Disney style – goes over the heads of young kids but gives adults a laugh.
Korie Lee Blossey as the genie was particularly good at connecting with kids in the audience, getting them to cheer and clap as he bestowed wishes like Oprah Winfrey. I found him a bit hard to understand at times but that’s probably just my old ears.
Kaenaona lani Kekoa was fantastic as Aladden’s love interest, Jasmine. She commanded the stage with her solo numbers, bringing about that soaring feeling a musical can provide. Jonah Ho’okano grew on me as Aladdin as he settled into the role through the show’s first act and you believed him as the hero in act two. The two leads worked especially well together on the stage as their love blossoms.
Jafar, played by Patrick R. Brown was sinister as the dark side seeking to take over as Sultan, and his perfect comedy timing sidekick, Iago, played by Reggie De Leon, provided many of the night’s best laughs.
Overall, Aladdin is worth seeing and can be a great introduction to musical theater for kids.
PPAC has several other shows coming up that will be good for families:
- Seuss’s How the Grinch stole Christmas The Musical: December 17-22, 2019
- Blue Man Group: March 20-22, 2020
- The Spongebob Musical: May 12-17, 2020
Susan Gale is CEO of Gale Force Communications, which publishes Kidoinfo.com.