I don’t know about you but I’m feeling TWENTY TWO! I booked these birthday tickets for Aladdin when they were first released in November 2015, so I was more than ready for this show, but nothing could prepare me for just how amazing it would be!
For my birthday I’d originally decided to do the matinee of Aladdin and an evening showing of In the Heights, but then In the Heights decided to close for the week to rehearse the new cast (how inconsiderate!) so we turned Aladdin into a day trip to save on accommodation costs. This meant getting up ridiculously early, driving to the station, getting the train to London, watching the show, getting the train back to Manchester and driving home. Never again!
We hit a few snags on the way, unluckily for us it was Manchester United vs Manchester City up North and Watford vs West Ham down South so there were LOTS of people, but we made it to the theatre in plenty of time. The seats were AMAZING – I highly recommend Row C of the stalls! I had sent Nathan Amzi who plays Babkak a quick message before the show to let him know where we were sat but there was no need – he spotted me straight away and kept catching my eye throughout the show. It’s very hard to concentrate on a show when someone keeps pulling faces at you from the stage!
The show itself was brilliant. Don Gallagher is the perfect Jafar, his “evil laugh” is spot on and he has really captured Jafar’s droll, dry delivery which is what I love about him in the film. His make-up is fantastic too and he has three on-stage costume changes within about 30 seconds, which I still can’t figure out how they do!
I LOVE the magic carpet – as soon as the set falls away and Aladdin and Jasmine started flying around the stage, you could hear a collective “wow” from the audience. I have seen the show four times now from four different angles and I have come to the conclusion that it is, in fact, an actual flying carpet. That’s the only explanation!
Three new characters are introduced to the stage version of Aladdin – Aladdin’s three friends Babkak (Nathan Amzi) Kassim (Stephen Rahman-Hughes) and Omar (played this afternoon by (Kade Ferraiolo). This trio works so well together onstage – what I love about Stephen Rahman-Hughes is that you never quite know what he’s going to do next, and he really has fun with the role. Kade Ferraiolo was a brilliant Omar and Nathan Amzi was in a league of his own as Babkak. He has some brilliant lines (and some food jokes that will make you groan) and he makes light work of the tricky choreography and ridiculously high belting he does.
My absolute favourite song in the show is “Friend Like Me.” It’s my favourite part of the original film and the stage production is absolutely spectacular. Trevor Dion Nicholas, who we stole from Broadway and now refuse to give back, is sensational and so consistent throughout. He sings, he tap dances, he does Bruce Forsyth impressions, his talent knows no bounds! When he triumphantly finishes “Friend Like Me” the audience went crazy, and rightly so! From the stage the genie laps up the applause and then says “thank you, thank you! I’d like to thank my Mother, my Father, and Alison happy birthday thanks for coming!”
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t immediately burst into tears. Surely I was hearing things? I was still shaking at the interval when I got a message from Nathan: “Did you hear your surprise?” Erm, yes!
It took pretty much the entire interval to calm myself down, and I spent pretty much the whole of the first song miming to Nathan how much I bloody love him. I was more than ready for the song “High Adventure” where Babkak, Omar and Kassim fearlessly (ahem) rush to save Aladdin from the dungeon, when the safety curtain came down. I don’t remember this part of the show? It turns out the elaborate set had gotten stuck, and it took 15 minutes to get going again. To the Prince Edward Theatre’s credit, they kept the audience informed throughout and handled the situation very well. It did cut in to my stage door time though!
The rest of the show went without a hitch, and after a cheeky “happy birthday” from Nathan during the curtain call, it was time to go. I was more impatient than ever to get to the stage door, and everybody seemed to be moving so slowly! When we finally did get out of the theatre it was pouring with rain – like that was going to put me off?!
With the 15 minute show stop and all of the glitter/make up Trevor Dion Nicholas has on I wasn’t expecting to see him after the show so I sent him a quick tweet to say thank you so much for the shout-out – thanks again Trev, you are amazing!
When Nathan came out of the stage door he came straight over and said “here, this is for you.” It was an Aladdin poster signed by the whole cast with “Happy 22nd birthday Alison” written along the top. I damn near started crying again! Instead I literally jumped on him and gave him a massive hug, which attracted the attention of every single person at stage door. Oh well! After lots more hugs and me babbling “thank you” about fifty times we both had to run for food. I was still in a bit of a daze – what the hell happened today?!
I’ve said it about a million times already on various social media outlets, but THANK YOU Nathan for going out of your way to make my birthday so special, I can’t even put into words how much I appreciate not just my birthday but everything you’ve done for me in the four years I’ve known you. You are one in a million!