Thursday November 23rd 2017

” Disney’s Aladdin”

Highly Recommended  Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire has a magical way of using their stage for theater in the round. When I first heard they were bringing  “Disney’s Aladdin” to their stage, I wondered just how they would imagine the flying carpet for “A Whole New World”. When CST at Navy Pier did this show, with their three story theater, it was a “piece of cake” as they had the ability to have a carpet rise above the stage. Marriott doesn’t have that luxury so director Matt Raftery and his design team created a carpet on wheels that could be moved about the stage with a  fog shooter that created the illusion of flying above the clouds and it worked! In fact, this energetic cast brought a special flavor to this production. Taking an award winning animated feature to the live stage is not an easy task as most of the children in the theater have witnessed the original and might compare the “live” adaptation to the film version. This audience got into it early as the sparkling cast made these roles their own.

Jameson Cooper is a strong Aladdin and the petite Christinal Bunuan is delightful as Princess Jasmine. It is hard to imagine the powerful voice she has coming out os such a little person. Roger Mueller, one of Chicago’s most  reliable character actors plays the Sultan with authority but with a caring soul. The evil Jafar, who wants to be Sultan is handled by Dietrich Gray and his sidekick Iago, the parrott ( a puppet controlled by Debbie Langford-Blanc is hysterical. She plays well with the audience and in fact, after awhile, we lose sight that this is a puppet. Karl Hamilton does a wonderful job as Razoul and the ensemble players are very busy changing costumes and characters throughout the 60 plus minutes of magic on the stage.

As many know, the Genie is the key to making this show truly work and one could not ask for anyone else to play this role but the fun-loving Bernie Yvon who truly adds a new look to this character, never trying to imitate Robin Williams, but in fact, making this role his own. He is about as animated a character as a live actor can be and well worth the price of admission just to watch him “work the role”! Raftery’s direction is slick and keeps the action going- a very important part of putting together a production for young theater audiences. Many of these children are having their first live theater production and can walk away wanting more or never wanting to go again. Thanks to Raftery and his team, I am sure they will become theater-goers for now and forever and I know that this hour of their lives will be one treasured for  years to come.

After the show, the performers come on stage to take questions from the kids and this is as much fun as the show itself. It is true- “Kids say the darndest things”!

“Aladdin” will continue at Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences located at the Resort in Lincolnshire through August 14th with performances as follows:

Tuesdays- Sundays at 10 a.m. and Saturdays at 12:30 p.m.

Tickets are only $15 and are available at the theater box office, by phone at 847-634-0200 or online at

The theater is located in Lincolnshire, just south of Half Day Rd. ( Route 22) and just east of Milwaukee Avenue ( Route 21) with plenty of free parking.


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