| NEW YORK, March 21
NEW YORK, March 21 It has a flying carpet, a
cave full of treasures and show-stopping songs, but critics said
on Friday the Broadway debut of Disney's "Aladdin" lacks
the magic of the original Oscar-winning animated film.
The tale of the street urchin Aladdin, who wins the heart of
Princess Jasmine, unleashes the Genie from the lamp and battles
the evil Jafar, was the top-grossing film of 1992, and picked up
Academy Awards for best original score and song for "A Whole New
The musical that opened on Thursday night is the latest
Disney film to be adapted for the stage, following the
long-running and hugely successful "Lion King," "Beauty and the
Beast," "The Little Mermaid" and others.
Although "Aladdin" includes new songs, elaborate costumes
and sets, dance numbers and a magical carpet that mysteriously
floats, it left some critics wishing for more.
"This super-costly extravaganza doesn't do justice to the
movie, or to the spirit of the late Howard Ashman," trade
magazine Variety said, referring to the lyricist who had the
original inspiration for the film.
The Hollywood Reporter described the show as "sweet, silly
fun," while the New York Daily News found the extravagant
production lacking compared to the film.
"Most moving thing in 'Aladdin' is the flying carpet," it
said in a headline, adding that the musical was "entertaining
but an emotionally sparse adaptation" of the film.
"While burning through wishes, you should ask for a musical
with a lot more heart," it said.
But the New York Times' Charles Isherwood, who admitted he
was not enthusiastic about the prospect of yet another Disney
show on Broadway, said the show defied his dour expectations.
"Aladdin' has an infectious and only mildly syrupy spirit,"
he wrote. "Not to mention enough baubles, bangles and beading to
keep a whole season of 'RuPaul's Drag Race' contestants in
Adam Jacobs ("The Lion King") plays Aladdin in the show
directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw ("Elf"). Courtney
Reed ("Mama Mia") is the rebellious Princess Jasmine and James
Monroe Iglehart ("Memphis") takes on the role of the Genie that
was voiced by comic Robin Williams in the film version.
Although less enthusiastic about the musical, the New York
Post had high praise for Iglehart's rousing performance.
"Disney's new 'Aladdin' doesn't quite catch lightening in a
bottle - but it lets a pretty nifty genie out of a lamp," the
newspaper said. "That would be James Monroe Iglehart."
USA Today went a step further, saying Iglehart's rendition
of the song "Friend Like Me" topped the version sung by
"By the end of the number, which includes a game-show
segment, a medley of tunes from other Disney musicals,
Iglehart's Genie is deliriously huffing and puffing: the
audience, which received it at a recent preview with a standing
ovation, is just as giddy," the newspaper said.
The Hollywood Reporter found the musical perhaps the most
old-school of Disney's screen-to-stage adaptations since "Beauty
and the Beast" but added it could still become a family-friendly
"It's not the most sophisticated entertainment, but the
target demographic won't mind at all," it said.
Another Disney movie bound for Broadway is "Frozen," this
year's Oscar-winning best animated film which has generated $1
billion at the global box office since November.
(Editing by Eric Kelsey and Andrew Hay)