Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky
A whole new world (Don’t you dare close your eyes)
A hundred thousand things to see (Hold your breath, it gets better)
I knew these words are intended to describe the falling in love moments for Aladdin and Princess Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin, but for guests at the Music Hall at Fair Park, it also describes the emotional visual journey that the Dallas Summer Musicals have offered with their production of Aladdin, which runs now through Sunday, June 23.
The scenic and costume design team for this production created a magical environment with hundreds of yards of opulent, colorful silks, sparkling beading and sequins, and gold lame and gold accents everywhere the eye can see. The extravagant settings create an enchanting backdrop for the performers to weave their magic.
The show opens with our Genie, Major Attaway, letting us sneak a peek into the mythical town of Agrabah with the opening number, ‘Arabian Nights.’ This fast-paced number sets the mood for the entire show. North Texas’ Attaway doesn’t disappoint as Genie, and in fact, he enchants. He adds humanity and humor to the larger than life character, and his delivery shows perfect timing.
Clinton Green, who portrays Aladdin, is a name you should follow. This talented young performer not only had the vocal chops for this challenging role, but his dance skills were impeccable. It is unusual to see a male vocal lead with such natural control and stillness in his dancing while tackling the aerobic extremes of Aladdin’s dancing chase scenes. He showed real tenderness in bringing ‘Proud of Your Boy’ to life, engaging the audience with one of the songs in the production that was new for the Broadway show.
Kaenaoalani Kekoa brought a plucky independence to Princess Jasmine. She had more than enough range for the role, but could learn to add nuance in some places where she chose to showcase vocal strength. Her approachability made the character a crowd favorite, though, throughout the production.
This production of Aladdin was the first time I’ve EVER seen a standing ovation in the middle of an act. As Aladdin enters the gorgeous cave of wonders and unearths Genie in the lamp, Major Attaway and the rest of the cast literally astounded the audience with the spectacle that was ‘Friend like Me.’ The ensemble showed amazing dance range with rapid costume changes, stylistic dance changes, and visual sleight of hand at every turn. I think in a dozen viewings of that number the audience would see new things in each watching.
The second act lacks some of the visual surprises that filled the first act, but it made up for that with technical tricks and exceptional vocals. The technical crew’s creation of the magic carpet allowed a real wow moment as Jasmine and Prince Ali floated through the sky. The combat scenes as Aladdin’s friends enter the castle to free Aladdin from his imprisonment were impeccable, and showed great choreography. These interludes allowed the personalities of the supporting cast to shine through in special moments.
Part of the beauty of Disney’s Aladdin is that the show speaks to audiences of all ages in different ways. Families with children will love the magic and familiar refrains. Young lovers will swoon at the romantic moments. And everyone can relate to the universality of feeling imprisoned by our circumstances, whomever we are.
Theatre lovers, Disney lovers, fashion lovers and magic lovers: You all have something to celebrate at the Dallas Summer Musicals with Disney’s Aladdin as it plays through June 23.