Disney's Aladdin Jr.

Date 2nd November 2019
Society Fareham Musical Society
Venue Henry Cort School, Fareham
Type of Production Musical
Director Matt Swann
Musical Director Valerie Tucker
Choreographer Sophie Woodward

Report

Author: Mark Donalds

Disney’s Aladdin Jr. has been adapted from the 1992 award-winning film and the 2014 Broadway stage musical. While many people are more familiar with the pantomime version of Aladdin, this show goes back to the core of the story about the “diamond in the rough” street rat who learns that his true worth lies deep within.

In this production by Fareham Musical Society's talented Youth Theatre, quality and attention to detail were definitely keynotes, and no compromises have been made just because this is a youth production. The excellent programme was full of interesting information, plus great photos and biographies of the cast – with its cover designed by cast member Emily Downs. It was far better, in my view, than the professional programme I paid much more for at Chichester Festival Theatre the day before.

The set (by Scenery Solutions of Eastleigh) was top-notch too, and was cleverly designed so that it could be manoeuvred easily by the cast, ensuring that all scene changes were swift and slick. Costumes, designed by Amanda Marino, looked great - colourful and sparkly and entirely appropriate for the show. Effective lighting (Matt Swann) completed the dazzling picture.

One of the privileges of watching youth theatre over a number of years is seeing young actors with potential grow and realise that early promise. Joseph Townsend-Bilton (Aladdin) is one such actor. His voice has matured into a nicely rounded and melodic tenor and he portrayed the hapless Aladdin to perfection. Opposite him was the equally talented Kira Barton as Princess Jasmine – another fine voice and giving it just the right amount of ‘attitude’ for her character.

They received strong support from the rest of the cast: Billy Campbell as the Sultan portrayed a character way beyond his years so well; Tristan Redwood was spot on as the evil Jafar, earning well-deserved boos on his curtain call; Freya O’Grady gave the parrot Iago such a strong character you hardly noticed she was there operating it; and Mia Marino brought huge spark and vitality to the Genie.

I cannot ignore the rest of the cast – sadly too numerous to mention individually – you all spoke, sang and danced so well, and somehow managed to avoid any collisions during the inventive choreography on a fairly compact stage! Without microphones, it was at times difficult to hear some of the smaller voices, but I’m sure your projection will improve with practice.

This youth group never fails to impress with its talent and enthusiasm. We are seeing the performers of the future here, and what a bright and exciting future that is going to be.