[THEATER REVIEW] A Bilingual Aladdin Charms All Ages in Boyle Heights
[CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly credited actor Finley Poynice with the role of the Genie. The production’s four leading roles were double cast, and while Poynice was one of two people cast as the Genie, Lewis Powell III played the role the night our reviewer was in attendance. We regret the error.]
Aladdin, the rags to riches story of a young man who lives on the streets in the literary classic, One thousand and One Nights, has incarnations as a Broadway musical and most famously as a Disney movie.
Disney’s Aladdin Dual Language Edition, a bilingual musical adaptation now onstage at Casa 0101 Theatre in Boyle Heights, gives the story a new slant.
Set in the imaginary town of Agrabah, the story’s twist is that Sultan’s evil Grand Vizier Jafar has divided the city linguistically. The people of the palace speak only Spanish, and those in the town speak only English.
Jafar holds the upper hand as he speaks and understands both languages, a skill he wants to use to gain power. As the story unfolds, a trio of pretty girls serve as Royal Translators to help the audience follow the action.
The sultan orders his daughter Jasmin to choose a husband and presents to her a group of suitable princes, but she rejects her snooty suitors and escapes to the marketplace.
There, she encounters Aladdin, who lives by his wits on the streets. Although they don’t speak the same language, they have an immediate attraction that is interrupted when palace guards arrest Aladdin and his pet monkey, Abu, throwing them into a cave where he finds an unusual looking lamp.
Of course, it’s magical, and when he rubs it, he encounters a Genie who helps fulfill his dreams.
The musical is punctuated by some of the songs made famous in the Disney movie including “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me.”
The 80-minute production is fast paced and lively. Standouts in the cast are Lewis Powell III, who energizes the role of the Genie, Michael Torrenueva, a handsome Aladdin, and Valeria Maldonado who charms as Princess Jasmin.
“Our cast of 24 actors, with the help of the Royal Translators and feisty bilingual animals, make this dual language musical very accessible and family friendly for all who see it,” said Rigo Tejeda, Artistic Director and Founder of TNH Productions who presents the show in conjunction with Casa 0101.
The mission of TNH Productions is to present musicals that tell the stories by and for underserved minorities
Disney’s Aladdin Dual Language Edition is a charming production that will entertain all ages. Whether your principal language is Spanish or English, the story is a timeless tale where love and loyalty conquer greed and unbridled ambition.
Disney’s Aladdin Dual Language Edition, 0101 Theatre, 2102 East First Street, Boyle Heights, through February 19th. Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. $30; $25 students and seniors; $20 Boyle Heights residents with ID. (323) 263-7684, casa0101.org.