Bursting with smoke and spectacle, Aladdin arrives in Minneapolis

- No tiger. No monkey. Intermission at Aladdin the Musical had millennials yearning for their old pals.

“It’s so fresh - too bad they had to drop the magic carpet.”

Or did they?

Abu and Rajah may be out of the picture, but Disney still manages to keep a few tricks up their glittery sleeve - some of them wisely saved for Act 2. And boy, is it an amazing trick.

If it is nothing else, Disney’s largest production to date is an Olympic-level lesson in spectacle. The magic carpet - which flies high above the stage, seemingly without wires or support -  is its dazzling creme de la creme.  In one of the most wondrous, head-scratching mysteries to hit the Orpheum in some time, you nearly forget Aladdin and Jasmine are belting out one of the most iconic little ditties in Disney’s repertoire.

Unfortunately, investigative journalism will only get you so far in the world of flying tapestries.
The production team will answer pretty much any question about their latest animated blockbuster turned stage musical, except one.  They’re staying mum about that magic carpet ride. 

So here’s what we do know.

This is not the Aladdin you may remember from Disney’s renaissance. The popular 1992 film is a mere 90 minutes, and features a piddly five songs. Disney Theatricals was not shy expanding the material, relying on a heavy helping of slapstick, new songs from Alan Menken, and a dizzying array of Swarovski rhinestones.

 Aladdin still does his best to woo Princess Jasmine with the help of Genie, but it’s not the story your eyes will feast upon.  If the blinding white teeth of Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) aren’t distracting enough, perhaps the fiery sparkle of pyrotechnics, or the magic of split-second quick changes will stave off sudden boredom.

Tickets start at 39 bucks and quickly go higher, but considering the healthy caravan of artists you’re helping employ, Aladdin is really more like an early Black Friday doorbuster. It takes 75 people to execute this behemoth of a show on a nightly basis. 

A small army tasks itself with keeping track of the show’s 337 handmade costumes. If that sounds impressive, It truly is a whirlwind onstage - 102 costume changes take place in less than a minute.

Despite the millions Disney has invested in this tour, things do go wrong.  Not often, but they do. Opening night in Minneapolis sent stage hands scurrying into view, as an unruly piece of an Arabian market suddenly stopped taking cues from stage management.  The problem? The gigantic set piece had lost its bluetooth connection, and no longer wanted to exit on its own.

There can be no mistakes when it comes to the real flashes and bangs onstage.  The state fire marshall was called in to approve the show’s vast wealth of pyrotechnics.  Performers are taught to stay at least six feet from all those beautiful, but dangerous explosions.

Of course, the spectacle is just one piece of the show - albeit a very large piece.  You’ll also find a talented bunch of actors competing to shine under the show’s 111 moving lights.  If they look more like fitness instructors you wouldn’t be too far off.  As Genie points out, in this fictional Arabian community, everyone has zero percent body fat.

Catch Aladdin in all of his smoke and splendor at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis now through October 8.

Abraham Swee is a multi-media producer at FOX 9 covering the arts across central Minnesota.  Send story ideas to abraham.swee@foxtv.com

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