Filling a theater in August in Madrid is a miracle. The production company Stage Entertainment gets it at the Coliseum Theater that it keeps open during the summer so that the public can see Aladdin. Musical with a book by Chad Beguelin, music by Alan Menken (to whose musicals a small homage is made in this work) and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin himself that Disney premiered on Broadway in 2011. Work based on the popular film from the same company from 1992, one of those from the studio’s second golden age thanks to the aforementioned artists.
Therefore, the original story is already twenty-one years old, and the musical twelve, although its background is medieval, the classic of The Thousand and One Nights. And it continues to work for the public despite the fact that the fiction is known through and through, its script twists and the ending. It seems that the spoiler doesn’t matter to them, behaving like children who want to see the same movie over and over again.
How does Stage get it? Offering shows, as this production company has been doing since 2011 with El Rey León at the Lope de Vega Theater in Madrid and with a host of other musicals that it has brought to Spain. They were the ones who laid the seed that has made Madrid one of the main venues for musicals in the world.
It is true that, at first Aladdin can be somewhat routine. With that idea that the public doesn’t get bored if the thing is moving, it’s full of actions, it’s fast. Yes, the pace is hectic but few things happen no matter how many things the characters do and say. For something to take shape and generate interest, a tempo and time are necessary, as Scheherazade, the storyteller of Arabian Nights.
A tempo that allows us to see Aladdin as the orphan thief, rogue and good people who earn a living dealing here and there in the Agrabah souk. As well as seeing the complicity in the crime with others like him. All of them experts in petty theft to eat. So well known that they are under, shall we say, police surveillance. And whatever happens, whether they are or not, they are always the first to be accused.
In those they are when the protagonist meets Jasmine in the souk and by chance. As soon as he sees her, he falls in love with her. Both, both the characters and the actors who play them meet the criteria for being handsome (especially handsome in a musical), so it is normal that they attract each other as they attract the public. He, who has seen how the royal guard persecutes her, puts all her experience in escape at her service.
Escaping, he takes her to his messy shabby mini-apartment on a roof in the most impoverished neighborhood of the city, which one would expect to find on the roof of the corralas that still remain in Madrid. Which facilitates a time for love to emerge. That necessary confidence is generated to kiss and touch each other. A brief moment before the royal guard arrives and takes Jasmine away by force. And he finds out that she is the princess who wants to marry any prince without taking into account her feelings.
It is not the only encounter with the aristocracy that the protagonist will have. Jafar will also look for him, who wants the position of sultan at all costs. To get it he needs a simple lamp found in the Cave of Wonders. Where only people who are diamonds in the rough can enter for their kindness and honesty, like Aladdin.
In fact, he enters, but before leaving with the lamp to give it to Jafar and get what he has offered him, a fortune, he amuses himself by looking and touching the jewels in the cave, something that he was told not to do and for which the cave is closed tightly.
Locked up and bored, he rubs the lamp trying to read an inscription on it to see if he can find out what makes it so special compared to so much jewelry. And he finds out. He contains a genie that will offer you three wishes. That our protagonist will use to become the prince who can marry Jasmine. Sure, if Jafar and the sultan let him. There is no romantic story without difficulties to overcome.
All of the above allows us to resort to the extravagance of an Arab character with 19th century overtones. That orientalism that was found, for example, in the paintings of Mariano Fortuny i Marsal and many other artists of the time. That idea of the exotic. Unveiled women dressed in flowing silks in their harems. Men turbaned, bejeweled, and feathered to the eyebrows.
And in the case of the cave, extravagance is used. And how! Becoming one of the highlights of the show, if not the moment, without detracting from the flying carpet scene. For the one that alone would deserve to see the show. Suddenly it is as if you were in front of a classic number from the musical.
Classic is an adjective that comes to hair in this work. Even in her feminist claim, which she has. That of the princess claiming from her the right to marry whoever she wants. Something fully accepted in fiction both from this and from previous times. For example, in Puccini’s Turandot.
Classical are also the score and the lyrics. That is, from musical to use. It’s a pity that people have once again thought that the louder the volume is, the better, something that had been abandoned on the Gran Vía and its satellites. And it’s a shame because the music becomes slurred, distorted and does not allow us to appreciate it, enjoy it, savor it. Which means that you have to throw as a souvenir in the case of the most popular ones like Arabian Nights, Prince Ali or An Ideal World.
It is also classic in its theatrical forms. Its game with painted backgrounds. The ways of saying and doing the text on stage. His choreographies that, again, several of them are reminiscent of the choreographies of the classic movie musical. The wardrobe seems classic, which gives an air to that of old movies.
Its classicism is such that there are times when one might think that it is a revamped vintage product. The one that had had the dust and stains removed. And ready to be used again as if it were new.
For which a good cast has been chosen, at least in its first cast, which is the one to which this review belongs. In which David Comrie gets all the attention and with them the applause, but he has the most flowery and fun role, that of the genius, to whom he gives himself body and soul, which is why he receives a lot from the public. But whoever can stop looking at him will discover how well chosen and how well they fit the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine, Roc Bernardí and Jana Gómez. Even in the first you will discover an actor with the energy and disposition for the musical.
In any case, it is not the novelty that would define the proposal. But rather his desire to please an audience that arrives with the expectation of seeing something great and worth the cost of a ticket for a musical in a theater on Gran Vía. having a good time.
And please them? From what we have seen, it pleases them a lot. Well, they laugh when it’s time. Even when reality slips in with the joke of the Abu Dhabi Pyramid for emeritus kings, something unusual in this type of show. The fact is that they applaud each number and there are those who stand up at the end of the show and shout Bravo!.
Perhaps the least pleased are the very young, it is not a show for them, although it is for when they are a little older. And, perhaps, among the most satisfied spectators are the young couples who come out of seeing the theatrical version of a film from their childhood in which a love like theirs was celebrated. To those who are seen with the good aspect of someone who has made up to go to the theater, even if it is a summer make-up, and go out as a couple. Love that they can show on their social networks after taking the obligatory selfie with a large genie lamp behind them and some merchandising on their arms or around their necks in the foreground. An ideal world.