The first-night bookers could never have imagined that the timing of Aladdin‘s West End opening could feel so incongruous with what’s happening in the real world. For producers Disney themselves, it’s been a week of sadness and horror: a boy killed by an alligator at their resort in Orlando, Florida, where, of course, 49 other victims lost their lives in one of America’s worst mass shootings in a homophobic, terrorist attack on a gay nightclub.
One of the previews attended by critics coincided with this week’s Soho Vigil, when the streets outside the Prince Edward Theatre filled with people showing solidarity with Orlando’s LGBT victims. Quentin Letts noted this in his Daily Mail review: “On Monday night, when I saw [the show], the streets outside were packed for a moving tribute to the dead of Orlando. Seldom has a musical felt more detached from reality.”
“Seldom has a musical felt more detached from reality.”
Meanwhile, the UK is being torn apart by the EU referendum, football fans are wreaking havoc in France and Donald Trump is… well, Donald Trump. Maybe, after all, it’s perfect timing – we all need a fairy-tale escape from this reality.
And, judging by the overnight reviews, and despite the inevitable pantomime associations for British audiences, the Disney-scale spectacle has worked its magic on most critics. Here’s a round-up of reviews published this morning.
There’s also a dash of purple carpet glamour, with one very special guest in particular: title star Dean John-Wilson‘s girlfriend, also known as Cynthia Erivo. Last night’s opening comes just four days after she scooped the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her Broadway debut in The Color Purple. Now there’s a happy bit of timing.