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Friday, July 22, 2011

Orbson Reviews Aladdin the Musical

Last weekend, Mrs. Orbson and I made our way to the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle to see the pre-Broadway run of Disney’s Aladdin. For those of you who are not theater snobs like us, this means that after performing in Seattle, the production will move straight to Broadway. It’s an awesome opportunity to see A-list stars, directors and crew without traveling to New York. We also get the bragging rights of seeing the performance before it becomes “big news”.

We made our way through the throngs of theater-goers and sat in our inexpensive, yet well-placed balcony seats. The stage curtain had been replaced by “magic carpets”, the band started playing and the mood was set. That’s when the stupid started ejaculating from the stage in bursts of community theater like mediocrity. Before the arrows start flying, yes there are many good community theaters out there. Unfortunately for us, Aladdin was to Broadway caliber as Sarah Palin is to intelligence. Severely lacking.

So what made Aladdin the opening act of Crapapalooza? Oh, where to begin. The rushed through dialogue? The underdeveloped characters? The lackluster score? Well yes, but the real mucus on this crusty scab of a musical was the staging and costuming. Now if you are at all familiar with Disney or have seen The Lion King musical you might think that a new Disney show would be larger than life with extravagant costume and sets. At the very least, you’d think that it would be as good as those 45-minute Disney World performances. You would be wrong on both fronts. There was barely any staging and the costumes looked like they were designed by a 3-year old using her My First Sewing Machine. The floor was completely bare with only the taped “marks” visible. Nothing screams Arabian like fluorescent purple duct tape.

There were three big scenes that should have been spectacular – when Aladdin meets the Genie, when Aladdin, pretending to be a prince, parades into town and Aladdin and Princess Jasmine’s magic carpet ride. At least with the Genie we got a little bit of smoke. Sure, I could have done it myself with a bucket of dry ice and a firecracker, but it did prove that somebody somewhere worked on this musical. Other than that, all we were given were a few dancers and a couple of baskets of fake fruit. Where are the elephants, the acrobats, where was the freakin Disney magic? The lack of anything resembling professional theater was appalling. Then, it got worse.

The magic carpet scene is supposed to be the romantic climax of the play. Well, if you consider a 10-foot-pole lifting the carpet off of the ground magical so be it. I don’t know about you but I find my romantic evenings severely distracted by having a pole shoved up my ass. Yes, I am sure some of you might find that enjoyable but remember – 10 feet, not 10 inches long. The best part was the beautiful starlit sky- stage hands dressed in black, were waving lights around. Seriously people, this is fine in high school but not for a Broadway musical.

Needless to say, Mrs. Orbson and I give this play two thumbs down. The cast was merely adequate and was not able to elevate this amateurish attempt at musical theater. Disney, you should be ashamed. I will point out that about half of the theater seemed to really enjoy the play. Of course half of the country votes Republican so…. In the end, I’d say rent the movie and forgo the play.

Orbson on Art – Check out one of my favorite artists, Pino Daeni. A perfect combination of colors, technique and feminine beauty. My favorites are “Everlasting Beauty” and “Angelica”. http://www.paragonfineart.com/artists/pino.html

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