‘Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp” is a musical play that can realistically be called family entertainment. With creative, colorful sets and costumes, a fun, romantic story, and enthusiastic acting by adults and kids, it makes parents laugh and children giggle.
Erik Austin, director and choreographer, knows how to please kids without playing down to them. He seasons his shows with a slightly satirical spin that may go over the heads of children but will be appreciated by adults. He also throws in some pop references such as, in this show, Jack Nicholson and Lady Gaga.
Ryan Vasquez, who has been in a number of Kelrik shows, is charming as Aladdin, a street boy who coaxes a genie from a magic lamp and asks him to turn him into a faux prince so that he can woo the lovely princess Jasmine. He’s a natural young actor, flowing into the role, as well as connecting with the audience in moments of interaction.
Lester Wilson, painted blue, is an audience favorite as the hilarious Genie. Wilson, like the other adult actors, takes his character over the top. Austin, as the villain Jafar, who schemes to marry the princess himself, makes Jafar as deliciously evil as the genie is funny. Matthew Ambrose, as Jafar’s sidekick Iago, speaks through a cute parrot hand puppet. Christian Clarno plays the father of the princess as a clueless royal personage.
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Seeing how much these adult actors are enjoying their own antics is half the fun of the show.
Last Saturday afternoon the role of Princess Jasmine was played by understudy Danielle Mendoza, a talented newcomer to Kelrik with a lovely voice. We can hope to see her in future shows. Jennifer Malman plays the role at other times.
Scott Nelson, who also has a fine singing voice, is the narrator who opens the show. Sophia Longas has a nonspeaking but acrobatic role as a magic carpet. Her unusual attire is just one of the exotic costumes worn by the lively ensemble of 18 singers and dancers of all ages. Among the array of costumes by Keith Wetzel of Costume Capers are some brilliant golden turbans worn by palace guards and a pair of amazing platform shoes that help the slightly built Aladdin rise to princely height.
The songs include romantic ballads and ensemble song and dance numbers that fill the small theater with youthful energy. Stephen Tosh is musical director.
The sets, by Austin and Ambrose, are quite elaborate and artistic, from street to palace to an elegantly decorated royal cave, and there are some special effects as well.
Kelrik shows are an ideal place to introduce youngsters to live theater, so different from movies and television. They can see kids, often their own age, performing and having a great time doing it. And they can meet them outside the theater after the show.
The shows this season are about an hour long, with no intermission, ideal for all ages. In “Aladdin,” the villain is funny rather than scary, and the Genie makes even the youngest kids giggle.