By Sergio Berrueta
Casa 0101 brings family-fun entertainment with a bilingual twist to fan-favorite musical numbers in their new musical “Disney’s Aladdin.”
With a script written by Jim Luigs and Jose Cruz Gonzalez, the play delivers a microcosm experience of the original film while creating a unique language based twist on the story. Aladdin, played by Daniel Martinez, roams the streets of Agrabah which is put under a spell by Jafar, played by Luis Marquez, that has all the citizens speaking different languages.
The Sultan, played by Henry Madrid, and his daughter Princess Jasmine, played by Sarah Kennedy, see the spell is causing problems for the suitors coming to marry the princess. After getting captured by guards, Aladdin is tossed in a cave by guards and comes across a magic ‘Disney’s Aladdin’ brings bilingual twist lamp complete with The Genie, played by Lewis Powell III, and a magic carpet.
It’s now time for Aladdin to win the heart of the princess and stop Jafar from taking over Agrabah. Taking roots of the original film, this adaptation takes parts from the Broadway musical version and blend it together with newer elements.
The songs sung in both English and Spanish are that of the original songs from the classic film by lyricist Tim Rice and music by Alan Menken. Those familiar with the original may be caught off guard at first, but the blending of the two languages help carry the main idea of the monolingual spell over the kingdom. A highlight is the “Prince Ali” number with the Genie in a delightful performance by Powell singing in both languages with ease and never skipping a beat.
Another great addition is Jafar getting songs of his own. Marquez gets to let loose in these numbers that echo the musicals of the 1950’s with his sidekick Lago dancing along as a in-house made puppet that is an uncanny replica of the animated version. The main spell subplot also comes into play between Martinez and Kennedy as the two leads. With Jasmine speaking Spanish and Aladdin speaking English, these barriers give their romance a greater obstacle to climb with Rajah and Abu acting as translates.
The chemistry between these two are also aided by this crux of communication as the audience can feel their wanting of love, despite their barriers. It’s touching to show the old fashioned idea of love knowing no language and knowing no bounds.
It’s a bit hokey to some, but for the target audience, it’s a harmless message that kids and adults can understand. The production of the show is also good at making use of the limited space of the Casa 0101 stage. It plays with the set taking design notes from the film while using a strong blend of lights and projections in order to smoothly transition from scene to scene. The musical numbers certainly benefitted from the limited space with the highlight being the famous “A Whole New World” number.
Martinez and Kennedy soar in the air with the help of fog, starlight twinkling and dancers in the fog bringing a new vision to an already classic scene. “Disney’s Aladdin” is a beautiful revamp of the classic many have loved over the years with enchanting performances, a creative new vision and moments sure to delight those in attendance.
The showtimes are Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m.
Performances will run from now until March 5 in an extended run due to popular demand. Casa 0101 is located at 2102 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90033. For more information, call (323) 263-7684 or visit their website at www.casa0101.org.