A Whole New – Astounding, Dazzling, Breath-Taking – New World

Janiqueel is caught up in the magic and spectacle of Aladdin at Marina Bay Sands

Master, I don’t think you quite realize what you got here. So, why don’t you just ruminate while I illuminate the possibilities?


Spoiler alert: “Friend Like Me” will knock your socks off. Don’t be surprised if the ovation following the number is one of the loudest you’ve heard. ‘I’m so glad we put tap in the show,’ says Nicholaw [Casey Nicholaw, director/choreographer] in retrospect. ‘Everyone loves tap – audiences love it, dancers love it…  love it!’ “ Add Janiqueel to the list. I loved it! Sparkling skirts and pants, bejeweled hats, gold walking sticks, and a score of dancers fill the stage with energy and fun. This is what a musical is meant to do – thrill the audience with the sense that they wouldn’t see the likes of this anywhere else.

“Friend Like Me’ is indicative of the spectacle that is Aladdin. From start to finish the theatre is alive with sights and sounds that are meant to astound, and they do! This is good, old-fashioned pizzazz without apology or, let me be honest subtlety. “… initially reticent about joining the Aladdin team,” (from the program notes) set designer Bob Crowley heard the music, saw the movie, and signed on. Like the costumes and music, the set is over-the-top to be sure, but the in-your-face spectacle is the name of the game with Aladdin

The ace reporter for Janiqueel, JKJ, was fortunate to have a backstage tour on the day before opening night. There amidst the myriad costumes and sets, he found that the spectacle doesn’t just happen. On stage for media Q & A, Technical Director, Mark Henwstridge, told about supervising 36 freight containers filled with the paraphernalia incumbent on a giant production on their journey from Sydney to Singapore. “What happens to all this stuff when the production ends,” queried JKJ. It’s all carefully accounted for and packed up for the return trip; Singapore is the last hurrah for this production. There are 108 costume changes in Aladdin. That’s a world record. Seeing the intricate results of dressmaking craft par excellence gives an appreciation for the minute parts that make up the grand spectacle. Baubles, sequins, bangles, and beads? Got ‘em by the hundred thousand, the stage manager explained. She, by the way, was one of three S.M.’s in constant communication with each other as well as the backstage team as a whole during the production.

After a look at the wig room – all real-hair wigs that are washed and coiffed after each show – JKJ and other media were taken on stage for a thrilling taste of what it must feel like to dance and sing in Aladdin. The intricate onstage choreography is mirrored backstage by the multitudinous crew doing their own dance behind the scenes. Astounding. Breath-taking.

Doing the onstage dance, the actors playing the main characters (Aladdin, Genie, Jasmine, Jaffar, Iago, Sultan, Kassim, Babkak, and Omar) look like they are having enormous fun. This was borne out in the Q&A where they all agreed it was great fun and a professional milestone that none of them would soon forget. Their energy is contagious. The audience was not hesitant to show their appreciation for a night immersed in the mythical world of Agrabah – a world of thieves, heroes, princes, sultans, songsters, and surreal effects. The highlight of the effects is the famous flying carpet on which Jasmine and Aladdin glide above the stage. How is it done? It’s magic! And there is much, much more magic going on onstage from quick-change costume reversals to whole dinner settings that appear out of nowhere, it is a marvel.

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Well, you don’t know what we can find
Why don’t you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride…
Well, you don’t know what we can fine
Why don’t you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride…

Steppenwolf, Magic Carpet Ride

Writing help and research by JKJ

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