Disney’s Aladdin Musical Brings Out All the Bells and Whistles at Hollywood Pantages Theatre

John Nguyen

I’ve had many fond memories of watching Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular at the Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure. It was a 45-minute show that ran for 13 years thanks to the memorable music, iconic cast of characters, and the hilarious Genie with his quick quips and jokes about popular culture and current events. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it captured the spirit of the classic animated film. When it closed in 2016, I was sad about not being able to watch this show ever again in person.

Luckily, a Broadway production has been running ever since it premiered at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City in 2014. Fast forward to 2023, and I finally had the chance to experience the U.S. Tour of Disney’s Aladdin at Hollywood Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. It brought back memories of my time watching the theme park show with the likable characters and Genie, once again, being an absolute scene stealer and cracking current event jokes and referencing pop culture. Aladdin at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre brings out all the bells and whistles with energetic song and dance numbers, beautiful production design, spot-on casting, and memorable characters.

Adi Roy as Aladdin in Aladdin Tour. Photo by Deenvan Meer/Disney

Set in the fictional kingdom of Agrabah, the main characters are all here including Aladdin, Jasmine, Jafar, Iago, Genie, and the Sultan. Their roles are still intact with Aladdin wanting to move up in life, Jasmine feeling suffocated inside the palace, Jafar plotting to take over, and the Sultan who wants what’s best for his daughter. The supporting characters like Rajah, Magic Carpet, and Abu have either been removed entirely or have a reduced role. Replacing them are actual human companions for both Jasmine and Aladdin. Fans of the animated films will miss the animal companions; however, the human friends in the live musical are still fun and engaging. The changes are warranted since seeing Aladdin and Jasmine talking to a performer inside an animal suit might have looked silly. (Iago is an exception since he’s supposed to be silly.)

The casting is solid with Adi Roy as Aladdin, Senzel Ahmady as Jasmine, Anand Nagrai as Jafar, Aaron Choi as Iago, Sorab Wadia as Sultan, and Marcus M. Martin as Genie. Jasmine’s friends have minor roles, but Aladdin’s friends have more stage time such as Ben Chavez as Omar, the flamboyant friend; Colt Praties as Kassim; who is just as dashing and charming as Aladdin; and Jake Letts as Babkak, who loves food. Each has a different personality and together they’re all memorable. Martin truly is the scene stealer, and you can really see his dedication through his lively performance and perspiring head.

Marcus M. Martin, Adi Roy and Company in Aladdin Tour. Photo: Deenvan Meer/Disney

The Aladdin musical features music by Alen Menken, the original composer of the animated film. With a longer running time, new songs were written for the musical in addition to adding three songs cut from the 1992 film. These songs add more depth to the different characters. “These Palace Walls” shows Jasmine feeling trapped, “Diamond in the Rough” has Jafar and Iago plotting their evil plan, and “Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim” introduces audiences to Aladdin’s friends. The two romantic leads, Roy and Ahmady, are both solid in their singing, but a part of me wished that they would go all out with their voices to make it truly outstanding.

“Friend Like Me” is the ultimate crowd-pleaser, and Martin and company blew it out of the sand. The dancing is flashy and mesmerizing, the sets are literally golden, and there are plenty of fun takes including a mashup of different Disney songs.

With all the dancing and singing, the core of Aladdin is still the timeless message about the value of friendship and being yourself. It doesn’t matter how much wealth you have or how important you look, the most important thing is that the ones you love like you for who you are.

Disney’s Aladdin is currently running at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre until September 23. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com.

Featured image: Adi Roy as Aladdin in the North American Tour of Aladdin. Photo Deenvan Meer/Disney