Musical review - Māori Aladdin steals the show

By Jessica Tyson
Cast performs Friend Like Me.  Photo source: Disney

Reporter Jessica Tyson reviews Aladdin - The Musical.

It's a dream come true for every child of the nineties – Disney's Aladdin The Musical has made it to Auckland with an array of colour and talent.

The animated musical fantasy film Aladdin, made in 1992, was one of my favourite films to watch as a child.

While I was at intermediate school as a 12-year-old I also had a role in our Aladdin production so the story has always had a special place in my heart.

So, of course, I had to go along last night to see if the musical was just as magical. 

And I was not disappointed.

In the sold-out theatre, I sat back wide-eyed and mind-blown throughout the entire show.

It came to life with breathtaking sets, special effects, over 300 extravagant costumes, a 15-piece orchestra and a fabulous cast. 

My favourite moment was when the cartoon prince came to life through the Māori Aladdin played by Graeme Isaako.

I like to think he got his voice from his Māori-side of the whānau because it was impeccable, just like many of our Māori manu tīoriori.

Isaako, 29, has been living and working in Australia for the last 21 years but told Te Kāea how happy he felt to be back in Tāmaki Makaurau for the show.

“I grew up in NZ, in Auckland.  It’s amazing to be back home.  I feel all of the aroha,” he said.

Arabian Knights. Source: Disney

A special highlight of the musical was when the entire cast took to the stage for the waiata Friend Like Me.

The dancing and singing throughout the song were unbelievable. At the same time, the stage transformed into a cave full of gold, jewellery and hidden belly dancers that magically appear.

However, the biggest wow moment was when Aladdin and Jasmine jumped on their magic carpet during A Whole New World and soared off into a star-filled sky.

The humour throughout the show had the audience entertained, especially when Gareth Jacobs, who took on the late Robin Williams' role in the musical as the Genie, made jokes about eating too many Timtam biscuits and gaining too much weight while being locked in a lamp for 100,000 years.

Overall, the musical was a fantastic interpretation of the film but offered its own modern, humorous touch and every cast member performed their role perfectly.

Aladdin - The Musical is at The Civic, Auckland until 3 March.

Flying carpet. Source: Disney