Theatre musical: In a land of genies and flying carpets

The memorable tale of Aladdin re-explored.


Maryam Usman November 06, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Don’t be fooled by their sizes; if you thought school children could not perform, think again. Aladdin, a musical play concluded at Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) auditorium here on Saturday. Under a plethora of noisy toddlers and ringing cell phones, an audience of all shapes and sizes filled up the hall to relive the adventures of a ‘street rat’ and his brushes with a magic lamp.

For her debut production, director/producer Bina Zafar has revamped the script with snappy dialogue and contemporary humour, making room for spontaneity. The lyrical quality of the play and the belly dancers added to the oomph without being tacky.

Most of the cast hailed from the middle school bracket. “It’s all about children, giving back to children,” Zafar said. The highlight ‘something blue’ Genie (Mustafa Ali Khan) had many doubling with laughter. His deftness and animated gestures were reciprocated by other cast members; Jaffar (Zarnab Rashid) lived up to his snarky reputation, bordering on the ludicrous. Abu (Esaa Zafar), the monkey pulled off antics in sync with Iago (Mishaal Omar) and Aladdin (Mikaiel Naqvi). The Sultan (Ahmed Ibrahim) doubling as Treasure, displayed command over his role(s).

Princess Jasmine (Zara Qadir), all decked up in characteristic bling and sky blue, could have used more uptightness in her role. The terrace sequence was stellar, depicting chemistry between the lead actors. The rendition of the official soundtrack ‘A whole new world’ on the flying carpet had many Disney buffs crooning along.

Another captivating feature was the interaction; a cast member would quip a line at the audience or toss goodies down the stage. There was an uproar of singing and clapping on the parts audience connected with. However, there were the usual delays in blackouts between scenes. Despite live singing, the sound was inconsistent in places. Still, the costumes designed by Fayez Agariah and choreography by Tania and Jasmine Arandia were reminiscent of the streets and palaces of Agrabah . The split-storey set by Romain Guilleux provided a fresh feel.”I was blown away by the sets and costume! It was just marvelous,” Sanam, a mother of two commented. The show wrapped up with a dance finale, an ode to the splendid performance.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th,  2011.

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