18th Jun2016

Aladdin (Theatre)

by timbaros

006-1Disney has done it again. They’ve produced another musical based on one of their very popular animated movies – this time it’s ‘Aladdin.’

Already playing on Broadway where it opened in 2014 to very good reviews, Aladdin takes the colorful animated movie and successfully transfers it to the stage. It’s a production so colorful, so full of life, with quite a few memorable scenes, that it’s likely this show will follow in the footsteps of ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in entertaining lots of children (and adults) for years to come.

Of course the ‘Aladdin’ film is most famous for Robin Williams as the voice of the Genie. It was a natural fit; his huge character persona so in line with the genie’s. In the stage version, the genie is just as memorable (played by a campy and very funny Trevor Dion Nicholas), who practically steals every scene he’s in. He can grant three wishes in this love story between Aladdin (Dean John-Wilson) and the Princess Jasmine (Jade Ewen). Aladdin is poor, and hangs out with a trio of losers and thugs in the town of Agrabah. Meanwhile Princess Jasmine is very unwilling to enter into an arranged marriage by her father the Sultan (Irvine Iqbal). But lurking in the background is the Sultan’s Prime Minister Jafar (Don Gallagher) – his right hand man who wants to overthrow the Sultan and will do whatever it takes to do so. This entails locating a dangerous cave where there’s a special lamp that grants wishes. Back in town, Princess Jasmine dresses as a commoner and walks around town and meets Aladdin. They’re smitten with each other but the romance hits a rocky start when Aladdin gets arrested for being in the palace. He’s saved by Jafar, who enlists him to go into the cave to retrieve the lamp. But it’s Aladdin who, accidentally, gets to own the lamp, and like in the film, he has three wishes to make, wishes that will not only change his life but the lives of his friends and Princess Jasmine as well.

Aladdin is not a perfect musical. There’s not very many memorable musical numbers (except the well-known ‘Friend Like Me’ and ‘A Whole New World,’ which plays out on a magic carpet flying above the stage with the stars twinkling all around. It’s a magical and mesmerizing scene). John-Wilson is good as Aladdin, but he doesn’t wow us. Gallagher as the evil Prime Minister is especially good. He’s evil, cunning and very clever, with the aide of his assistant Iago (Peter Howe). Former England Eurovision contestant Ewen, as Princess Jasmine, is very good and proves that she can sing AND act. However it’s Dion Nicholas as the genie who you will cheer and applaud. But it’s the sets, wow the sets, that are the real star of the show. Moroccan deserts, palaces, villages, sunsets, and perfect costumes are all worth the ticket price. And while ‘Aladdin’ resurrects the story and music written for the 1992 movie by Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice and the late Howard Ashman, it’s no ‘Lion King’ but it sure comes close.


09th Apr2016

Boulevard (Film)

by timbaros

A 65-year old man in great conflict makes a life changing decision in the new film ‘Boulevard.’

The late Robin Williams is bank branch manager Nolan Mack. He’s literally just going through life’s motions – working at a bank, with a longtime wife (Kathy Baker) and a very sick father in the hospital. Then one late evening after visiting his father, he drives through a derelict part of town and almost runs over a young man, Leo (Roberto Aguire), who turns out to be a male prostitute. Nolan checks to make sure Leo is fine, then out of the blue, invites him to go to a motel. This chance meeting opens up something inside Nolan who perhaps realized but didn’t accept that he has feelings for other men. While his relationship with Leo becomes more involved and more complicated, Nolan starts giving Leo money and starts acting like a surrogate father. Their relationship is not sexual but it’s intimate. Nolan tries and tries to his hide his encounters with Leo from his wife and his best friend Winston (Bob Odenkirk), but as Nolan becomes more and more involved and emotionally tied to Leo, his wife suspects that something is going on. But eventually Nolan comes to the realization that Leo does not feel the same way about him, but at this point it appears that Leo’s life will never be the same again.

Williams gives a delicate performance as the lonely and subdued Nolan. He’s a man whose conflicted, despondent and depressed until Leo comes into his life. Shot in 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee, Williams would eventually hang himself a year later. This story of a lonely and depressed man is eerily parallel to William’s life. Baker, known mostly for her parts on television, is very good as Nolan’s wife, who knows her 40-year marriage is slipping away and there’s nothing she can do to about it. Aguirre more than holds his own against seasoned veteran Williams, their scenes together are both calm and gentle. Director Dito Montiel (2013’s Empire State) does a great job in getting great performances from his cast, with a good script by Douglas Soesbe. But it’s Williams performance that will stay with you for a long time as it’s one of his last, ever.