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OPINION | THEATER REVIEW: Magic helps song, dance shine bright in ‘Aladdin’

by Eric E. Harrison | February 3, 2023 at 4:01 a.m.
Michael James Scott plays the Genie in the North American tour of "Aladdin.” (Deen van Meer)

There's plenty of magic onstage this week at Little Rock's Robinson Center Performance Hall. Theater magic. Disney magic. Genie magic.

You've never seen a genie like the one heading up the cast of the national tour of "Disney's Aladdin." Marcus M. Martin grabs the show by its turban from the very opening and shakes it -- and himself -- until gold practically pours out of its theatrical ears. The show is gorgeously staged, choreographed and costumed, to the point to which it would put a Vegas revue to shame.

Handsome Aladdin (Adi Roy), a street-rat living by his wits in a Middle Eastern bazaar, encounters and falls in love with Jasmine, the sultan's slumming daughter (Senzel Ahmady), only learning when at the point of arrest by the palace guards that she's a princess.

"Recruited" by the sultan's evil vizier Jafar (Anand Nagraj) and his diminutive sidekick Iago (Aaron Choi) to recover a magic lamp from a mystic cave, Aladdin releases the Genie, who as part of the mandatory three wishes agrees to turn him into a prince, equip him with an entourage and help him woo the princess.

If this production has a flaw, it's that the sound system is sufficiently unbalanced in favor of the live pit band to blur some of the lyrics, which are as clever as they come -- mostly the work of the the late Howard Ashman, including at least three songs that were apparently written for but got cut from the film, along with some of the characters, the three thieves who are Aladdin's best buds.

The music, as with the 1992 Oscar-winning animated movie on which the show is based, is by Alan Menken; Tim Rice took up the lyric pen after Ashman's untimely death and several numbers have lyrics by Chad Beguelin, who also wrote the book.

The show is back onstage at 7:30 p.m. today, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Robinson, 426 W. Markham St. at Broadway. For ticket information, call (501) 244-8800 or visit and

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