Aladdin and the Magic Lamp | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Aladdin and the Magic Lamp

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Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, Emerald City Theatre Company, at the Apollo Theater. We know it must be a fairy tale when Baghdad law dictates that if a man sees a princess with her face unveiled, he's the one punished. And we know this must be a modern adaptation when Aladdin and his royal bride can't live happily ever after until they learn that doing what makes them both happy is more important than wealth or status.

Topical twists and pop-psychology axioms are not going to keep a crowd of kids quiet for an hour, however. To do that you need eye-catching colors, cartoon-size characters, plenty of physical comedy, and a special effect or two--not to mention audience-interactive moments, in anticipation of which everyone had better be paying attention.

Fortunately the Emerald City ensemble supplies these things in abundance, from Michael LaTour's brisk direction of Alyn Cardarelli's articulate adaptation to Nick Sandys's acrobatic chases to Allison Greaves's dazzling costumes, Anastasia Platt's ingenious props, and Ann Davis's protean set. Dominic Tancredi's Aladdin and Michelle Ann Mueller's Princess Opal are smarter than mythic heroes are required to be, and Brendan McMahon makes a suitably infantile villain. But the show stealer is Craig Thompson as Genie, an urbane factotum with enough charisma to host a summit conference.

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