The word that most immediately springs to mind is 'joy'. Onstage and in the auditorium at theSpaceTriplex there is joy. This is the enthusiastic retelling of the story of Aladdin, by Flying High Young Company, with songs (catchy), dance (creative choreography), lots of fun, and the kind of performing passion that should never be allowed to fade.
the kind of performing passion that should never be allowed to fade.
There are several performers here who have industrial strength charisma already and the entire ensemble does not carry a single passenger. Thanks to covid restrictions, the 'stage' is really a floor, and the young company's blocking has had to be changed to play head on to an audience rather than in the round. This is a big change, logistically and stylistically, but you would not know. From the moment we enter, we are in the bazaar, with dodgy hawkers attempting to sell us ghastly tat and quarrelling amongst themselves. We hear whispers of some young thief called Aladdin. This is clever, engaging scene-setting. The whole cast take part in the all the big musical numbers, the choreography is tight, the singing terrific and the songs themselves simple but soooo smart. “Everything's worth what someone's willing to pay” is the hook line for the first number... would not be out of place in Miss Saigon.
Pretty much everything about this production tickles those places in your soul where your imagination used to enjoy itself. The opening of and descent into the cave and a camel ride across the desert are enthralling, as created by a handful of young people with black hoodies on over their colourful costumes. This is... what did we used to call it ? Oh yes. Theatre.
There are just enough mentions of Ipads and a slight plot twist allowing Princess Jasmine to save the day to make it all feel current, as well as a brave gender-blind casting of a female Wicked Uncle.
Most important of all, the youngsters in the audience (and their mums and dads), many of whom had dressed specially for the occasion, are held in Aladdin's spell for the full hour. Which is a huge time when you're five. I am sharing a row with Liam (aged 7) and his brothers Leo and JJ. They have been paying great attention to everything and so I ask them to rate the show on a scale from 'rubbish' to 'very good'. They give a unanimous 'very good' and I totally agree with them.