Photo by Deen van Meer

Disney’s Aladdin is a Treat for the Whole Family

From the second the music started and the carpet projection on the stage started to change color, I filled with such unexpected glee. I’m not kidding, it swept through me and as I looked over at my kids, their faces told a very similar story to the way I felt. My kids have only seen the movie Aladdin once, so they are not overly familiar with its music and story. I, on the other hand, have seen it many times. I was 11 when it came out in 1992, but my little sister was 5. We lived with the background sounds of Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast. I swear those songs live inside my skin, were written into my cells — hence the upswell of both the music and my general state of glee.

This is a good show. It’s 2 hours and 22 minutes (i.e. long), the lobby is crowded, the concessions’ and bathrooms’ lines are long, but you know what, despite that, it is worth it. I was worried coming into it because my kids, especially my oldest son, doesn’t do well in the setting described above, but he loved it. Not a little. He loved it a lot. As did my younger son who also happened to be celebrating his ninth birthday. The songs, the humor, the dance numbers, the updated references and the nods to some of the problematic elements of the movie all led to a wonderful, entertaining, joyous show.

There are a couple of moments to give warning for younger audience members (the slightest of spoilers ahead, if that’s still possible): there is a scary voice that talks to Jafar pretty early on. It is loud and creepy and I could hear some kids nearby saying to their parents “that’s scary, that voice is scary.” At another part, when we are introduced to the Genie and the whole crew launches into this incredible number that was hilarious, gorgeous and so, so good (they were working hard and the audience was there for it) — there are some bright lights and “fireworks” that were just a little too much.

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One of my favorite things about the show (beside the Genie, thank you Major Attaway for your incredible work) was how smart the design is. Projection and media effects were used sparingly to great affect, much of the fantastical moments were created with simple (and beautiful) stage pieces and wonderful choreography. The kids and I talked a lot about the set pieces, the magic carpet and all the effects.

Overall, Aladdin is funny, bright and beautiful and completely engaging from start to finish. The cast was fantastic, the kids loved it, and the crowd was humming with what felt like real joy as everyone slowly exited the space.

Some tips:

  1. It’s large and crowded, know that there will be people everywhere, concession lines will be long, as will bathroom lines.
  2. Speaking of bathrooms, there is a family bathroom near the mens room on the North side of the lobby. If your child is having an emergency, there are people who will you get them to the front of the line. It feels weird to jump the line but it’s better than a kid peeing their pants at a Broadway show.
  3. Concessions are spendy. That’s it. They just are. All beverages that go into the auditorium must have a lid.
  4. Parking — we paid $6 and parked right away in the parking garage just east of the Keller. It was worth it to be able to easily park. If you have time and energy to drive around, best of luck to you, friend, but I knew if I spent time circling I’d be so grumpy by the time we got inside so it was worth the $6 to just park.
  5. There are ASL interpreted showings on April 4 and 6, open captioning on March 31 and April 3 and audio description March 29 (audio equipment is free, first come first serve). You can also find accessible seating options here.
  6. There are a couple frightful moments, but they are pretty minimal. There is also romance, which was much scarier to my 10-year-old than any creepy voices or bright lights.
  7. Tickets run $30-$125, or if you want to go VIP, $171 — I couldn’t find any info about Arts For All Tickets. If you are interested in finding out if they offer discounted tickets, I’d call the box office at 800-273-1530 or do some further digging here.

Disney’s Aladdin runs March 27-April 7 at the Keller Auditorium.

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