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Posts Tagged ‘Disney’s Aladdin’

lamp2

The house lights go down; a spotlight shines on a golden lamp, the visual reminder of the dreams that gleam brightly in all of us. Then the stage lights go up, the lamp vanishes as a troupe of very talented actors appears – and we embark on a magical journey that takes us through the story of Aladdin.

(Disney’s Aladdin – just to make it clear. The master marketer of the mouse has apparently linked its name permanently to the musical version of the ancient story once told as part of Scheherazade’s 1001 nights.)

Disney’s Aladdin is being performed this summer at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which is located at the closest thing we have to a Disney theme park in Chicago – Navy Pier.

Most people are familiar with the story of Aladdin thanks to Disney’s animated film version released in 1992. Of course, seeing the story performed live on stage is a completely different experience than a film.

The play’s director, Devanand Janki, infuses the stage with energy and color to create the lively and energetic world of Agrabah. Using simple props, drapes and color, we can easily imagine the different locations for the story – the palace, the cave, the market.

With Robin Williams creating such a strong and memorable Genie in the film, I wondered how a stage Genie could remotely compare to the iconic figure Williams created. Bill Larkin does a great job making the role his own. He’s smart and funny – and the minute he appears, you forget all about Robin Williams’ manic performance.

The cast of 11 is uniformly terrific – with great performances by everyone.

For the parents, there are engaging references to a Paul Simon song (“Call me Al”) and the “snuggy” – that mass-marketed blanket with sleeves.

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) also incorporates a sly nod to a couple of Shakespeare plays – Princess Jasmine stands in a balcony yearning for her lover… “Aladdin, Aladdin, where for art thou, Aladdin.” And in the midst of plotting his overthrow of the Sultan, Jafar speaks malevolently of “the summer of our discontent…”

With the Shakespeare quotes, it’s like the CST is inserting an “Alfred Hitchcock” appearance into the performance (Hitchcock, the master of suspense, was famous for appearing in one shot in each movie he made.) If CST does not do this with each non-Shakespeare performance, I recommend that they try it… it’s a lot of fun.

My three children thoroughly enjoyed the show. My 9-year-old son particularly loved the chase scenes (well done on such a small stage!) And my five-year-old twin daughters were entranced by the love story. What’s not to like in a story that offers magic, music and mayhem – and ends with a kiss between newlyweds perched high above Agrabah on a magic carpet?

Aladdin_carpet

If you want a touch of Disney in Chicago, head over to Navy Pier to see Disney’s Aladdin…. it’s a magical experience.

The play is 75 minutes with no intermission and runs through August 30, 2009.

For our family, just getting there was half the fun…)

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Our magical journey began on the Metra. For older travelers, perhaps not so magical a beginning. But for my girls, a glimpse of heaven…

Lindsey watches the scenery flash by…
The journey begins... Lindsey heads into the city

Nora, on the top floor of the Metra…
Nora on the Metra

Aidan, perhaps a little jaded by all the other train rides he’s taken….
Aidan, perhaps a little jaded by the train

Next, a ride on a water taxi….
Using the Chicago River to propel us closer to our destination

My failed attempt to get all four of us into the shot!
A failed attempt to get all four of us into the shot....

On our way, we encounter art and fountains…
An artful bench, using mosaic to illustrate the Chicago story...

My water babies, doing what they do naturally, gravitate toward water…
My water babies, gravitating toward the water....

We arrive, finally, at the closest thing we have to a Disney theme park in Chicago – Navy Pier. And of course, no visit to the Pier is complete without a ride on…

The Ferris Wheel…
The Ferris Wheel...

But must we wrestle in a gondola so high above the ground?
Must we wrestle in a gondola so high above the ground?

Technology can be fascinating…
Technology can be magical...

And the view is fantastic…
The Ferris Wheel offers a spectacular view....

Aidan can’t pass up the opportunity to feel the wind on the swings…
That's him, in the red shorts - having a blast on something I could never ride... the swings

They swing around so very fast, those swings on the Pier…
They swing 'round very fast....

Too short for the swings, the girls instead enjoyed the Lighthouse Drop…
The girls enjoyed the Lighthouse Drop....

And then it was time for the play… Disney’s Aladdin….

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