COURTESY DIAMOND HEAD THEATRE
Kyle Malis rekindles memories of Robin Williams' Genie as he recreates the role on-stage in "Aladdin Jr."
DHT production maintains the magic
NEITHER an unexpected thunderstorm nor subsequent power outage could dissuade the audience at Sunday afternoon's Diamond Head Theatre performance of Disney's "Aladdin Jr."
"Aladdin Jr.": Presented by Diamond Head Theatre, at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 4 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 18, with 3 p.m. matinees Saturday and Dec. 17, and 7:30 p.m. shows Dec. 19 to 22. Tickets are $12 to $42. Call: 733-0274 visit the Web site diamondheadtheatre.com.|
The storm cut electricity in the theater for about two hours, just as people were arriving. After awhile, a concerned staff finally let the audience in out of the rain to play a waiting game with Hawaiian Electric Co.
After an impromptu round of Christmas carols, conducted with ambient light coming in from open exit doors, HECO finally came through. The "magic" kicked in, huzzah, huzzah, and in true showbiz tradition, the show went on.
At just longer than an hour, this adaptation of the popular Disney animated feature makes for a perfect introduction to Broadway-style musical theater for children, and fun family fare. Co-director/choreographers Miles Wesley and Adealani Malia keep things moving at a good pace, retooling the stage musical version in which they were cast members two years ago in Southern California.
The Arabian city of Agrabah is handsome to look at, thanks to set designer Johanna Morriss, and Dawn Oshima's lighting design shows off the sets nicely. My only gripe is the brief, but annoying, magic carpet ride, represented only by the use of a strobe light. Granted, warnings are posted in the lobby, but it was distracting as heck. Why not have the actors run through the audience instead?
I mention that option only because the action is already extended at times through the entire house, put to good use during the grand entrance of Aladdin, transformed into "royalty" by his jokey Genie, in the "Prince Ali" musical ensemble number.
All the kids and young adults who make up the cast come across as true troupers, and it's their youthful energy that successfully puts across the "hey, kids, let's put on a show!" attitude.
Kyle Malis and TX Tario, members of the theater company's Shooting Stars program, play the Genie and the smart-aleck parrot Iago, respectively, and are confident comedic performers. Malis' Genie continues in the vein Robin Williams made popular, and even slips in a sly Napoleon Dynamite reference to update his comic patter. And the diminutive Tario, along with the acrobatic Teiliana Pelekai* as the Magic Carpet, are both adorable. (Teiliana Pelekai will play the Magic Carpet during the Saturday matinee.)
Tario and the tall Devin Elting, as the villainous Jafar, play off each other well in their "Why Me?" number.
But amid all the color and fun, it's up to Princess Jasmine to bring some emotional weight to the show, and Vida Mae Fernandez pulls off the role well. Her strong singing on "To Be Free" and the show's theme, "A Whole New World," are highlights.
Chris Villasenor makes an appealing Aladdin, but his singing was shaky in his duet with Fernandez on "A Whole New World" Sunday. As "Aladdin Jr." continues its extended run through the 22nd, hopefully he'll be able to negotiate his way better through the song, and be the able singing partner Fernandez deserves.
Thursday, December 8, 2005
» In the Sunday performance of Diamond Head Theatre's production of Disney's "Aladdin Jr.," the part of the Magic Carpet was played by Teiliana Pelekai. On Page D5 yesterday, another actor was credited.