Review: Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (Capitol Theatre)

Venue: Capitol Theatre (Sydney NSW), from Feb 11 – Apr 16, 2023
Lyrics: Tim Rice
Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Director: Laurence Connor
Cast: Trevor Ashley, Euan Fistrovic Doidge, Paulini
Images by Daniel Boud

Theatre review
Joseph’s brothers sell him off to a life of slavery, simply for loving himself a little too much in a rainbow coat. By the end of the biblical story we discover, quite unsurprisingly, a moral about forgiveness. These archaic tales seem always to place the onus on victims to make things right, and even though there is a valuable lesson in Joseph being the bigger person in the situation, there is no denying that his eleven brothers should have been taught in the first place, not to act like deplorable imbeciles.

The fable of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat however does include some moderately delightful fantasy aspects, involving Joseph’s abilities as a soothsayer. He interprets other people’s dreams, and tells the future. As with all clairvoyant types, Joseph is hopeless at predicting his own destiny, so even though his story ends with redemption, there is something deeply uninspiring about his general lack of agency. The songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, in this 50-year-old musical are not much more exciting, but nostalgia is always certain to appeal, especially to those in search of something gratuitously sentimental.

Performer Euan Fistrovic Doidge is a very attractive Joseph, convincing with his guileless charm, and delivering all the singing and dancing required with such effortlessness, he makes the job look like child’s play. Paulini contributes her marvellous voice to the staging, and is every bit the Sunday School teacher, as narrator in a show that sees her interacting with a lot of children. The Elvis-like Pharoah is played by a flamboyant Trevor Ashley, who proves a breath of fresh air, in something that has a tendency to feel dreary despite its resolutely vibrant title.

Those who enjoy too much colour and extravagance, know what it is like to be ostracised and condemned. Joseph was banished because he was deemed irksome, by brothers who felt inadequate in comparison, or who were simply envious. The divine will always elude the drab, and even though the drab seems always able to create oppression from their own deficiencies, it will always be the divine that will endure beyond.

Review: Moulin Rouge (Capitol Theatre)

Venue: Capitol Theatre (Sydney NSW), from  May 28, 2022
Book: John Logan (based on the Baz Luhrmann film)
Director: Alex Timbers
Cast: Alinta Chidzey, Des Flanagan, Simon Burke, Tim Omaji, Andrew Cook, Ryan Gonzalez, Samantha Dodemaide, Olivia Vasquez, Ruwa Ngwenya, Christopher J Scalzo
Images by Michelle Grace Hunder

Theatre review
Satine is the only one who can rescue her beloved cabaret nightclub from financial devastation, but the arrival of a new love interest Christian, is causing all manner of unforeseen complications. The 2001 Baz Luhrmann hit movie Moulin Rouge was a riot of schmaltz and kitsch, memorable for its incongruous use of late century pop songs, for a story set in 1900. Two decades on, it seems that Luhrmann’s penchant for elevating what is generally considered to be low brow, is still a stroke of genius.

This live adaptation amps up the use of overfamiliar music from the pop charts, to create a show best described as a jukebox musical on steroids. Whether just a single line, or extended variations of monster tunes, this new Moulin Rouge speaks to us almost entirely through the pop canon. John Logan’s book plots the story cleverly, allowing plentiful action to occur on stage, in between short sections of dialogue to prop, but there is no question, that we are here for the spectacle.

Directed by Alex Timbers, Moulin Rouge is a rousing cacophonous affair, intricately manufactured so that our senses are completely absorbed, into a ceaselessly fascinating parade of extravagant scenes. The show is an unequivocal triumph for all its visual design aspects, and along with exuberant and powerful music arrangements, this is theatre that hypnotises and satisfies, in the most uplifting ways imaginable.

A remarkable cast brings infectious and palpable life to the stage; the ensemble in Moulin Rouge is alluring, spirited and disciplined, and we find ourselves connecting to the unnamed characters that they portray, as much as we do the prominent ones. Alinta Chidzey’s physical faculties as the tragically beautiful Satine are absolutely perfect, but her vocals can at times lack the lustre required to move us. Des Flanagan’s unbridled earnestness as Christian keeps our hearts open to the innocent love story, but it is Andrew Cook’s sizzling charm as rival The Duke, that sets pulses racing.

Playing the club owner in strife Harold Zidler, is Simon Burke who quite simply outshines everyone, with incomparable charisma and brilliant humour. Burke’s exceptional confidence and irrepressible effervescence are the key ingredients that make everything in Moulin Rouge feel so alive and poignant. Also deeply impressive are Tim Omaji and Ryan Gonzalez, who as Toulouse-Lautrec and Santiago, deliver a valuable sense of emotional authenticity, for a tale that is essentially about the plight of struggling artists of the bohemian underground. Omaji’s quiet rendition of “Nature Boy” and Gonzalez’s blistering version of “Bad Romance” are frankly unforgettable and in their divergent ways, transcendent.

Art should not always be about what one thinks. There is a tendency in our evaluation of artistic expression, to prioritise that which can be articulated in words. So much of art however, is to give shape and form to the human experience, in ways that are beyond words. A reductive way to characterise the immense success of Moulin Rouge, is to say that it is wonderful, for how much it is able to make a person feel. The truth is that, great art can never be sufficiently translated, you simply have had to be there.

Review: 9 To 5 (Capitol Theatre)

Venue: Capitol Theatre (Sydney NSW), Feb 16 – May 1, 2022
Book: Patricia Resnick
Music & Lyrics: Dolly Parton
Director: Jeff Calhoun
Cast: Erin Clare, Casey Donovan, Caroline O’Connor, Eddie Perfect, Marina Prior, Lily Baulderstone, Ana Maria Belo, Zoe Coppinger, Mia Dabkowski-Chandler, Ben Gillespie, Emma Hawthorne, James Haxby, Emma Johns, Jay Johns, Ethan Jones, Antonia Marr, Josh Mulheran, Tom New, Jake O’Brien, Matthew Prime, Jackson Reedman, Jordan Tomljenovic, Jessica Vellucci
Images by David Hooley

Theatre review
Doralee, Judy and Violet are three very different kinds of women, working in the same office. Their story takes place in 1980 when the glass ceiling was even more impenetrable and belligerent than it is now, and in 9 to 5 we see them having to resort to some extreme high jinks, in order to get somewhere with their professional lives. The musical by Dolly Parton is based on the now legendary 42-year-old film, with a book by Patricia Resnick that cares too much about being family-friendly, to be able to make the show genuinely funny. Its well-meaning depiction of gender politics seems unconsciously outmoded, but will undoubtedly still resonate for many, in a world where women continue to struggle to achieve the most basic, such as childcare and pay equality.

Direction of the work by Jeff Calhoun is of the most conventional kind. There are no surprises, and nothing is particularly inventive, only an attempt to present a wholesome style of commercial theatre that might appeal to the widest of audiences. The musical numbers are exuberant, with choreography that is faithful to the period, relentlessly incorporating innumerable jazz hands and pirouettes. It is inoffensive work, that makes for a frivolous night out, although ultimately uninspiring.

Erin Clare, Casey Donovan and Marina Prior are the leading ladies, all charming and accomplished, able to bring polish to the glamorous staging. Donovan’s performance of the showstopping “Get Out and Stay Out” is a highlight, with some real conviction finally emerging late in the piece. Also memorable is the campy “Heart to Hart” by Caroline O’Connor in the role of Roz, who together with Eddie Perfect as Franklin Hart the despicable CEO, deliver some of the more animated, albeit clumsy, comical dancing that proves equal parts funny and awkward.

The old school feminist tale of 9 to 5 is intent on replacing a man with a woman, at the top of the corporate ladder. Two waves of progress later, we now understand that it matters little, the gender of the person in control. It is the way power is distributed and structured, throughout all aspects of our lives, that is important. Theoretical insight however, does not take us very far. We remain beholden to organisations that insist on few at the top, with the masses kept down below. We continue to hope that having women breaking through to seize power, will lead to some form of regeneration, but the wait for meaningful change, seems never ending.

Review: Come From Away (Capitol Theatre)

Venue: Capitol Theatre (Sydney NSW), Jun 3 – Aug 22, 2021
Book, Music & Lyrics: Irene Sankoff, David Hein
Director: Christopher Ashley
Cast: Zoe Gertz, Sharriese Hamilton, Douglas Hansell, Kolby Kindle, Phillip Lowe, Simon Maiden, Sarah Morrison, Emma Powell, Katrina Retallick, Kellie Rode, Ash Roussety, Gene Weygandt

Theatre review
At the moment the disaster of September 11, 2001 occurred, hundreds of aeroplanes were mid-air across the Americas, thrust into utter chaos. Thousands of passengers had to be diverted as a result of the terrorist attack, to safer harbours, including the island of Newfoundland, at the outer east of Canada. The musical Come From Away comprises a collection of anecdotes from the five days, during which international strangers were welcomed by country folk into their homes, at a historic time.

Written by David Hein and Irene Sankoff, the material is warm and witty, offering a way for us to look back at a traumatic event, without having to engage directly with its immense darkness. Instead, it is the overwhelming goodness of ordinary people that comes to the fore. Directed by Christopher Ashley, the show eschews the usual manipulative cheesiness of the musical format, trusting in our collective memory of that fateful day, to transport us to a space of deep emotion and great empathy.

The staging feels deceptively simple, but in the absence of predictably flamboyant manoeuvres, thoughtful details are introduced instead, notably by Kelly Devine’s choreography, for a theatrical experience that is surprisingly sensitive in its rendering, to achieve an authentic expression of the human need for connection. Howell Binkley’s lights too, are memorable for delicately shifting us from nuance to nuance, never overly dramatic, but always precise in how they convey mood and tone for each scene.

The ensemble cast is brilliantly cohesive. Each performer is given plentiful opportunity to shine as individuals, but it is their tightness as a group that makes their presentation feel bulletproof. All are required to play multiple characters, and for the audience to discover every personality to be a likeable one, is truly remarkable. Similarly, musicians in the productions are no less than awe inspiring. Their work is spirited and exhilarating, incredibly rousing in this story about humans at their best, at a time of crisis.

Come From Away emerges from a horrific incident, yet we find it to be full of light and hope. In some ways, there is a sense that twenty years ago, even in the midst of tragedy, we knew clearly the distinction between right and wrong, good and bad. With the passage of time however, it may seem that an erosion of innocence has accelerated, probably through the Trump years, where seeing the worst of people is no longer a shock, but almost a matter of course. Fortunately though, the good people of Newfoundland do not seem fictitious; they only seem very far away.

Review: School Of Rock (Capitol Theatre)

Venue: Capitol Theatre (Sydney NSW), Nov 8 – Feb 16, 2019
Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics: Glenn Slater
Book: Julian Fellowes
Director: Laurence Connor
Cast: Brent Hill, Nadia Komazec, Amy Lehpamer, John O’Hara, Zane Blumeris, Cooper Alexis, Jude Hyland, Cherami Mya Remulta, Cole Zoernleib, Joel Bishop, Paisley Motum, Brandon Santos, Sara Petrovski, Zoe Zantey, Deeana Cheong Foo, Sabina Felias

Theatre review
Fifth-graders at the prestigious Horace Green prep school, are suddenly thrown into chaos, when their substitute teacher arrives to replace all of their academic syllabus, with a secret mission to participate in a rock music competition. For a few short weeks, the man-child Dewey’s passion for rock, becomes a central part of these twelve children’s lives, and in the process, each is able to develop a sense of worth and self-esteem, from their accidental exposure to the anarchic art form.

Based on the 2003 film by Richard Linklater, this musical version of School Of Rock is similarly rousing, able to provide inspiration to audiences of all ages. With a story about the clash of class and culture, it reveals with excellent humour, some of the problems we experience as a result of the way we organise society, and the impact that it has on children. This stage adaptation is thoroughly enjoyable, a commercial product of musical theatre that hits all the right spots, featuring powerful tunes and exquisite stage craft,

Performer Brent Hill is a charismatic Dewey, an energetic and confident presence that effortlessly maintains a disarming vivacity for the show’s entirety. School principal Mullins is played by the highly skilled Amy Lehpamer, detailed and captivating with all that she brings to the stage. Twelve astonishing young performers make up the rebel mob, each one impressive in their own right. The precocious Deeana Cheong Foo is especially remarkable as the bright and headstrong Summer, a convincing actor noteworthy for her proficiency in comic timing. Zane Blumeris as Zack on the guitar, and Cherami Mya Remulta as Katie the bassist, are two unforgettable musicians, in a group of extraordinary prodigies responsible for making the show come alive.

In School Of Rock, we see children go from subdued to wild, and learn the value of experimentation and self-expression. It is a journey of discovery that the kids embark on, and in the joy of their momentary emancipation, we observe each one embracing a courage that will serve them well in all the days to come. Not everyone in the band will continue being rock stars, but no matter how they progress from this point, we can be sure that they will henceforth be able to recognise the resonance of authenticity whenever it appears.

Review: Chicago (Capitol Theatre)

Venue: Capitol Theatre (Sydney NSW), Aug 20 – Oct 20, 2019
Music: Fred Ebb, John Kander
Lyrics: Fred Ebb, John Kander
Book: Fred Ebb, Bob Fosse, John Kander
Director: Walter Robbie
Cast: Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Amy Berrisford, Tom Burlinson, Alinta Chidzey, Andrew Cook, Todd Dewberry, Rodney Dobson, Samantha Dodemaide, Casey Donovan, Mitchell Fistrovic, J. Furtado, Ben Gillespie, Chaska Halliday, Travis Khan, Hayley Martin, Kristina McNamara, Joe Meldrum, Tom New, Jessica Velluci, Romina Villafranca, Rachael Ward, Zachary Webster, Mitchell Woodcock
Images by Jeff Busby

Theatre review
Roxie and Velma are in the slammer, but it would appear that they are having a great time, having learned that in America, it pays to kill. Chicago deals with the subject of the celebrity criminal, and the conventional notion that in whatever realm of achievement, no matter how sordid, we insist always only on having one victor, if the parties involved are women. The story may be approaching a hundred years old, but the enduring musical retains its feeling of thorough modernity, thanks in large part to Bob Fosse’s unparalleled choreography (interpreted by Ann Reinking in 1997), giving the show an air of scandalous edginess that is as yet unsurpassed.

This Australian revival, with resident director Karen Johnson Mortimer at its helm, is sophisticated and sexy, an exceedingly accomplished rendition of one of Broadway’s longest running musicals. Beautifully arranged by musical director Daniel Edmonds, the songs of Chicago are once again vibrantly rousing, proving the timelessness of this legendary work.

The ensemble is unequivocally sensational. Each performer delectable, skilful, and incredibly tightly rehearsed, for a presentation that leaves us breathless from the very get go. Roxie Hart is played by a luminous Natalie Bassingthwaighte, who brings a surprising and highly effective humour to the role, marvellous in her ability to elevate the well-worn campness of her material to something quite unexpectedly exquisite. Alinta Chidzey is impressive with the technical proficiency she brings to Velma Kelly, a consummate professional who hits every mark with admirable precision.

Tom Burlinson is slightly less charming than he needs to be, as the unscrupulous lawyer Billy Flynn, and although able to hold all the notes, Burlinson’s voice is unfortunately quite underwhelming. Rodney Dobson is on the other hand, charisma personified, winning the hearts of every audience member as Roxie’s husband Amos, especially during his much-loved “Mr. Cellophane” number. The part of Mary Sunshine is perfectly sung by J. Furtado, and Casey Donovan is simply divine as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton, replete with superstar quality.

The feuding women come together at the end, after being chewed up and spat out by the patriarchy. Women are told that there is only ever room for one, and so many fight tooth and nail to get to the top, forgetting that a hierarchy will always require the subjugation of entire populations, and that no woman is allowed to stay eternally supreme in accordance with this mode of doing things. Competition may be healthy, but whenever we are made to betray the sisterhood, we must remind ourselves that much as we are seduced by the feeling of attaining personal gain, the real beneficiaries of the system is never us.

Review: Jersey Boys (Capitol Theatre)

Venue: Capitol Theatre (Sydney NSW), from Aug 29
Music: Bob Gaudio
Lyrics: Bob Crewe
Book: Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice
Director: Des McAnuff
Cast: Ryan Gonzalez, Cameron MacDonald, Thomas McGuane, Glaston Toft, Mia Dabkowski-Chandler, Cristina D’Agostino, Sage Douglas, Mackenzie Dunn, Glenn Hill, Luigi Lucente, Enrico Mammarella, Scott McConnell, Joshua Mulheran, Jack O’Riley, Matthew Prime, Daniel Raso, Rutene Spooner
Images by Jeff Busby

Theatre review
The Four Seasons have sold an estimated 100 million records, a figure virtually unheard of in the industry today. Jersey Boys takes place in the 1960s, when young American talents were able to think of the music industry as a realistic means of striking rich. A highly effective jukebox musical, filled with colourful characters and an infallible inventory of songs, the show is the proverbial, and predictable, rollicking ride, designed for sheer entertainment.

This Australian revival features an exceptional cast, with Ryan Gonzalez particularly mesmerising as Frankie Valli, complete with that trademark falsetto, celestial and ineffable. Gonzalez’s vocal abilities are a sublime joy from start to end, and his stage presence proves astonishingly compelling, despite his slight stature. He gives his all to the performance, leaving us thrilled and wanting more.

Cameron MacDonald too, is wonderful as Tommy DeVito, founding member of the group and charming villain of the piece. Brilliantly wicked, and quite alluring, MacDonald impresses with flawless timing, proving himself indispensable to the production’s dramatic effectiveness. Also noteworthy is supporting player Rutene Spooner, who sparkles in all his guises, and has us flummoxed by the incredibly nimble athleticism of his voice, whenever he is given an opportunity to sing.

We can easily tire of rags to riches stories; they rarely deviate from structures that are rigidly conventional. The magic of live musical performance however, is boundlessly and fantastically uplifting. Singers and musicians have the potential to move us in profound ways, and on this occasion, their renditions of these half-century old songs, have certainly hit the mark.

Review: Priscilla Queen Of The Desert (Capitol Theatre)

Venue: Capitol Theatre (Sydney NSW), May 13 – Jul 19, 2018
Book: Stephan Elliott, Allan Scott
Director: Simon Phillips
Cast: Lena Cruz, Euan Doidge, Robert Grubb, George Holahan-Cantwell, David Harris, Adèle Parkinson, Emma Powell, Tony Sheldon
Images by Ben Symons

Theatre review
Priscilla Queen Of The Desert is an iconic work about homophobia, or more accurately, the resilience of LGBT people in Australia, who have managed to grow from strength to strength against all odds, in the face of pervasive, persistent and severe prejudice. The bus takes our three protagonists across the breadth of half the continent, encountering abuse and humiliation at every stop. To watch spirited people triumph over obstacles and injustice, is always gratifying, but to see it all happen in a musical with shiny twentieth-century pop tunes, is quite the sensation.

There is much to love about the show. Brian Thomson’s production design, Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner’s costumes and Ben Moir’s wigs, are all spectacular and unabashedly flamboyant, a real feast for the eyes, in a theatrical moment that provides an escape from our beige humdrum. The central story that reunites a gay man with his young son, is thoroughly moving, a soulful addition to the already poignant and universal narrative, of having to live out one’s own truth. The original film, on which the musical is based, is however, well over two decades old, and the baggage of its sexist and racist dimensions have only become more pronounced with time. Theatre, unlike the format of the motion picture, is capable of endless evolution. It is understandable that the biggest gags of the film have to be retained, but their political incorrectness require a degree of modulation or better yet, radical revisions, which the production conveniently disregards.

One can think of many women, bankable stars of the stage, who would be perfect for the role of Bernadette, but Tony Sheldon is once again cast as the Sydney local trans legend. He is precise and polished, an incandescent presence, but we are now in a new age of trans identities, and misgendering of this nature, is distracting, and certainly no longer acceptable. Euan Doidge is interminably effervescent, and breathtakingly beautiful, as Felicia the younger drag queen who learns things the hard way. His abilities as singer and dancer are thrilling to witness, and there is no denying the relief in seeing a person of colour as a lead, in a show known for its history of excruciating ethnic representations. The infamous ping pong scene is kept intact, but Lena Cruz’s feisty performance as Cynthia has us cheering for the character’s sense of liberated and vibrant autonomy.

David Harris cuts through the noisy glitz as Tick, impressive in his ability to convey emotional intensity, for several scenes that help prevent the show from disintegrating into meaningless froth. The father-son chemistry in later sequences are unforgettable, with fabulous child performer George Holahan-Cantwell offering the perfect balance, especially moving in the “Always On My Mind / I Say A Little Prayer” number, delivering a genuine instance of delicacy, in the midst of all things bold and brassy.

The show opens in Sydney officially, and auspiciously, on May 17, International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia 2018. This year, same-sex couples in Australia are finally able to marry, and the gay rights movement finds itself approaching the culmination of its objectives. In Priscilla, the prejudices on display that are most agonising, are no longer about gay men. It is time to look at the behaviour on the Australian stage, towards trans people and ethnic minorities. These may just be unintended sub-plots of a show that bears our national pride, but the passage of time can turn things from well-meaning to wilful neglect. We all wish to belong, and those who are no longer the pariah, should know to work for a bigger expanse of inclusivity and unity.

Review: Mamma Mia! (Capitol Theatre)

Venue: Capitol Theatre (Sydney NSW), Feb 11 – May 6, 2018
Music and Lyrics: Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Stig Anderson
Book: Catherine Johnson (originally conceived by Judy Craymer)
Director: Gary Young
Cast: Josef Ber, Jessica Di Costa, Alicia Gardiner, Alex Gibson-Giorgio, Sam Hooper, Phillip Lowe, Stephen Mahy, Sarah Morrison, Natalie O’Donnell, Monique Sallé, Ian Stenlake, Jayde Westaby
Image by James D. Morgan

Theatre review
The Mamma Mia! musical is approaching twenty years old, and although not particularly advanced in age, the work could benefit from a major refresh. The downside from having success on such a major scale, is the show’s inability to provide any surprises to a crowd waiting to be entertained. It delivers what it promises, and nothing else.

Every facet of this production feels no more than adequate, with safe artistic choices evident in every corner. In spite of all the predictability, it is unlikely that anyone would leave disappointed, although a hint of underwhelm might linger afterwards. The familiarity of Mamma Mia! is perhaps comforting, for those who come to the theatre seeking something slightly old-fashioned.

It is a well-rehearsed cast, uniform in skill and likeability. Leading ladies Sarah Morrison and Natalie O’Donnell are charming enough as the immortal mother-daughter pairing, both bringing a nice glowing warmth to the stage. There is accomplished but unremarkable singing by all, but the funnier performers make good use of comedic moments to leave an impression. Alicia Gardiner and Jayde Westaby are fun, flirty and glamorous as middle age besties who unleash a sense of vibrancy onto the sleepy town of Kalokairi. Ian Stenlake, Phillip Lowe and Josef Ber are suitably handsome and mischievous, playing the three potential fathers just how we have come to expect.

A wonderful thing about Mamma Mia! is the positive light in which all its characters are portrayed. There are no villains, no rivalries, and no one has to face punishment in order that its story of happily ever after can proceed. It is a perfect picture of the sisterhood, with good men providing colour and support; a strangely rare occurrence on any stage. No wonder it refuses to go away.

Review: Aladdin (Capitol Theatre)

aladdinVenue: Capitol Theatre (Sydney NSW), Aug 3 – Oct 23, 2016
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Chad Beguelin
Book: Chad Beguelin
Director: Casey Nicholaw
Cast: Aljin Abella, Adam Jon Fiorentino, George Henare, Arielle Jacobs, Ainsley Melham, Adam Murphy, Michael James Scott, Troy Sussman, Robert Tripolino

Theatre review
Based on their own 1992 film, Disney’s musical version of Aladdin is everything one could hope for in an adaptation of a much loved family classic. Fondly remembered for Robin Williams’ hilarious interpretation of Genie, and the chart-topping song “A Whole New World”, this theatrical rendering first appeared in 2011, and is now a well-oiled machine that delivers every bell and whistle expected of the format, including jaw-dropping state-of-the-art stagecraft, along with genuinely effective comedy, that provide sensational entertainment for young and old alike.

The show’s visual design is lavish and inexhaustibly dynamic. Costumes, sets and lights are a real treat, fascinating our senses at every moment like a kaleidoscope that constantly amazes. The manifestation of an actual magic carpet that literally flies around the stage is a gimmick that will captivate any viewer, including the very seasoned theatregoer.

Performances are strong, and the cast will likely grow in chemistry as the Australian season progresses. Michael James Scott’s work as Genie is particularly likeable. Although his energy levels do appear to falter after vigorous sequences, Scott impresses with charisma, sharp humour and a brilliant singing voice, making the larger than life character as commanding a presence as we wish for him to be. Ainsley Melham and Arielle Jacobs are the extraordinarily attractive leads, both delightful in their respective roles, and perfectly charming as the saccharine lovebirds.

It is an innocent romance that blossoms between Aladdin and Jasmine, but the show is a sophisticated one with its naive conceits kept in check. The world is a dangerous place in Aladdin, and its people must access their sense of morality to make the right choices. Themes of slavery, feminism and poverty are only lightly touched upon, but they provide the story with a meaningful foundation on which it discusses the eternal struggle between good and evil. This Disney musical has all the froth and frivolity that fans spend their money on, but at its heart is an ancient folk tale from the legendary One Thousand And One Nights, where the human condition is scrutinised, to reach an understanding of how we are, on our very best days.