📍 The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 1TR
🗓 Thursday 18th January 2024
A JOYOUS THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE
Disney’s Aladdin has flown into town and has taken up residency at Theatre Royal Plymouth where it is playing until Sunday 11th February and it’s perfect for blowing away those January blues! This high-energy production is hilarious, heartwarming and just what was needed on a cold and dark night.
I was invited along to watch the show last night and was absolutely blown away with it. What a theatrical experience! The show was instantly engaging and was a spectacle from the very start! It follows the same basic story of the popular Disney films with some updated references.
There was so much to love about this production but it was the sensational cast that really made it for me. Aladdin was always my favourite Disney film growing up and the company have really done it justice.
Gavin Adams led the cast exceptionally as Aladdin. He absolutely nailed the key characteristics of the young street urchin and had a wonderful singing voice. He was very ‘Disney’ and was a perfect choice for the role, full of energy and charisma. Adams is making his professional debut in Aladdin and what a triumphant debut it is.
Desmonda Cathabel is wonderful as his love interest Jasmine. The epitome of a Disney Princess Cathabel has beautiful vocals and is a joy to watch. Her interactions with Adams are wondrous and believable and their performance of A Whole New World is just magical. Combine their glorious vocals with the incredible staging and a flying carpet and this is truly a standout moment within a show filled with epic performances.
The strong performances kept coming, and Adam Strong as Jafar was the perfect villain and alongside bumbling sidekick Iago, portrayed by Angelo Paragoso, provided a great comic duo. Strong’s evil laugh was incredible and he was everything you could want from a Disney villain and more.
Nelson Bettencourt, Adam Taylor and Nay-Nay were absolutely wonderful as Babkak, Omar and Kassim. Buddies of Aladdin, they provided some incredibly funny moments throughout the production with their performance of Somebody’s Got Your Back being perhaps my favourite moment of theirs. When actors in supporting roles are as good as they are in this production it is an absolute treat to experience.
This production just had me smiling all the way through and I was really enjoying it… and then the Genie entered and blasted the show into the stratosphere! Yeukayi Ushe was INCREDIBLE, SENSATIONAL, AMAZING, EPIC, PHENOMENAL (there honestly aren't enough words!) as he brought this iconic character to life and completely made it his own. He gave an electrically camp performance and he oozed charisma and likability as the eccentric Genie which just filled my heart with joy. The energy on display from Ushe was mesmerising and his vocals were out of this world. It may only be January but Yeukaya Ushe as Genie is already a strong contender for my favourite musical theatre performer of the year. His performance alone is worth the ticket price.
The ensemble in the show were also a phenomenon. Just where do they get their stamina from? They seemingly made ease of Casey Nicholaw’s stunning choreography and were visually appealing from start to finish. There were too many to mention them all here, but I must give a special mention to Dammi Aregbeshola and Tau-En Chien who were utterly captivating and I was drawn to watching them both whenever they appeared.
It is obvious that no expense has been spared with this production and aside from the epic casting here, the lighting design by Natasha Katz was perfection as was the glorious costume design by Gregg Barnes. The set designs from Bob Crowley had the wow factor and just kept getting better and better.
There was nothing I didn’t love about this faultless production, and am already looking at booking a return visit before Aladdin flies off to its next destination. The show continues performances at Theatre Royal Plymouth until Sunday 11th February. Head to www.theatreroyal.com to check availability and book tickets.
If you only see one musical this year then this is absolutely the one to see! My favourite moment of the entire evening was the performance of Friend Like Me by Ushe and the ensemble. This was a masterclass in how to close a first act and to have your audience begging for more. This show does not disappoint and is not to be missed.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest, fair and free from influence. Theatre is subjective and it is important to remember that all views expressed are just those of one reviewer.
My ticket for this performance of Aladdin was gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to watch the show in exchange for my honest review. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in the content of my review or the star rating given.
Gavin Adams as Aladdin; Yeukayi Ushe as Genie; Desmonda Cathabel as Jasmine; Adam Strong as Jafar; Angelo Paragoso as Iago; Jo Serve as Sultan; Nelson Battencourt as Babkak; Adam Taylor as Omar; Nay-Nay as Kassim; Dammi Aregbeshola as Fortune Teller / Attendant; Harriet Millier as Attendant; Sinead Kenny as Attendant; Kerry Spark as Razoul; Aaron Elijah Patel as Prince Abdullah
Ensemble: Hannah Amin; Dammi Aregbeshola; Erin Gisele Chapmman; Tau-En Chien; Zac Frieze; Jared Irving; Sinead Kenny; James Lim; Harriet Millier; Luchia Moss; Aaron Elijah Patel; Abbie Platts; Joseph Poulton; Chris Ribz; Kerry Spark
Swings: Rico Bakker; Daisy Barnett; Sarah Benbelaid; Juan Jackson; Oliver Scheers; Ricardo Spriggs; Damien Winchester; Niko Wirachman
RUNNING TIME (approx):
2 hours 20 minutes, including interval
The Theatre Royal Plymouth is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West and is the largest and most attended regional producing theatre in the country. Their mission is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue offers three performance spaces of various sizes, the largest being The Lyric which accommodates the big touring productions. The Drum and The Lab are smaller, intimate spaces and often offer pioneering productions.