Disney Theatricals has handpicked Atlantis Productions to stage for the first time in Asia the musical Aladdin — all with good reason. The show was such a special treat not only for my children who knew all the songs by heart but to my husband and I as well because of the humorous references to pop culture and theater lingo.
Worthy of mention first are the three narrators played by Bibo Reyes (Babkak), Johan dela Fuente (Omar) and Jamie Wilson (Kassim). Like a well-oiled machine, their camaraderie on stage is tight and precise, without a line being thrown without focused intention. They were delightful to watch and they provided the show with pop culture and theatrical references that broke the fourth wall. This display of talent between the three of them was evident due to the successful participation of the roaring audience. From their belly-dancing to the chorus line to the Fosse-inspired dance moves they performed, they were committed and outrageously funny. Their number High Adventure in Act 2 was physical yet they were intensely entertaining. Bravo, Cecile Martinez, who choreographed the dance numbers for Aladdin.
I caught Calvin Millado as the Genie and he had all the elements for that kind of big performance necessary for a character who is not only blue but witty and comedic. However, I read in the program that Aiza Seguerra alternates as the Genie and even without watching her on stage, I know she brought flair to the character.
And let’s not forget our leads — very good-looking with talent to boot — Tom Rodriguez (Aladdin) and K-La Rivera (Princess Jasmine). It is extremely refreshing to see young thespians shine in the world of theater. They both have beautiful voices and a great chemistry on stage. As cliché as it sounds, their most notable number was during the scene on a real flying carpet as they croon A Whole New World. The lighting that Jay Aranda created added that surreal feel as if they — the lovers — were really floating in mid air.
Another thing I noticed was that the set was a spectacular mishmash of recycled materials perfectly designed by Lex Marcos. Twinkle Zamoras’ costumes added an air of royalty and Arabian shimmer to all the performers on stage. The hard-working ensemble was all on point and believably enjoying its time on stage.
Without a doubt, Atlantis Productions continues to bring consistent entertainment that is engaging and joyful to watch and there is no denying that directors Bobby Garcia and Chari Arespacochaga are the reasons why Philippine audiences clamor for their productions. Theater is humanity at its best, even as commercial as this hit Disney show. Don’t miss it and be dazzled no matter what age you are.
The show opened last weekend and runs till Dec. 9 at the Meralco Theater and is made possible through a special licensing arrangement with Music Theatre International. For tickets and inquiries, call Atlantis Productions at 892-7078 or tweet @gtongi for comments.