top of page

Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ delights at the Pantages with culturally appropriate cast

From left: Senzel Ahmady (Jasmine) and Adi Roy (Aladdin) in Disney's "Aladdin" at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre (Photo by Deen van Meer)

The national touring company of Disney’s “Aladdin,” performing at the Hollywood Pantages through Sept. 23, features a more ethnically diverse cast than its previous run here in 2018.

Despite the cultural clichés still inherent in some of its staging (such as the women’s unusually silky street dresses during the song “Arabian Nights”), the inclusion of non-white cast members in key roles lends the production a bit more authenticity. Staging has also evolved to be even more dazzling, making “Aladdin” a delightful musical escapade.

Adi Roy (Aladdin) in Disney's "Aladdin" at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre (Photo by Deen van Meer)

Adi Roy as Aladdin, Senzel Ahmady as Jasmine, Anand Nagraj as Jafar, Aaron Choi as Iago, Sorab Wadia as Sultan and Marcus M. Martin as Genie are just some of the actors of color who go a long way in making the production more culturally appropriate in telling the story of a charming Arabian street urchin from a long time ago running away with a spirited Arabian princess.

Sets (scenic design by Bob Crowley) continue to dazzle in even more spectacular (and frankly less cheesy) ways. The cave where Aladdin is compelled by Jafar to find a dusty lamp—its entrance framed by the gleaming teeth of a lion head— literally sparkles with golden treasures. Jasmine’s palace is made beautiful by intricately ornate Moorish facades.

Ensemble cast of Disney's "Aladdin" at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre (Photo by Deen van Meer)

Lighting (Natasha Katz) infuses an array of colors evoking bright days in the marketplace and velvet-hued twilights during Aladdin and Jasmine’s meetings. The musical is thus a visual delight from start to finish, with enthralling special effects by Jeremy Chernick and illusions by Jim Steinmeyer and Rob Lake, including Genie emerging from his lamp and the young lovers' magic carpet ride.

Adi Roy (Aladdin) in Disney's "Aladdin" at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre (Photo by Deen van Meer)

Costumes (Gregg Barnes) are also visually beautiful, especially the full-skirted and bejeweled women’s outfits in an array of colors. These especially shine during the spectacular twirling dances (choreography and direction by Casey Nicholaw).

And of course, Alan Menken’s varied music (the lively orchestra directed by James Dodgson) with lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin (who also wrote the book), continue to entertain as they have since the 1992 animated film.

Marcus M. Martin (Genie), center, with ensemble in Disney's "Aladdin" at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre (Photo by Deen van Meer)

The cast does well with the songs, though slightly better with movement. Roy thoroughly embodies his role as “Diamond in the Rough” Aladdin, with a winning smile, expressive boyish face and physical fluidity.

Ahmady as Jasmine is similarly comely and expressive, melodiously seeming to sing nearly every line, though her voice is interestingly huskier than Aladdin’s. They make a very cute couple, adding to the believability of the tale.

The rest of the cast also perform their characters well. Nagraj is especially articulate as the nefarious Jafar, scheming to take over the Sultan’s kingdom himself. As his sidekick Iago, the sprightly Choi is funny both in how he speaks and in physical comedy. And Martin as the larger-than-life Genie is adept at stealing the spotlight and playing to the audience.

From left: Anand Nagraj (Jafar) and Aaron Choi (Iago) in Disney's "Aladdin" at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre (Photo by Deen van Meer)

Among the supporting cast, Alyssa Anani deserves a shout-out for her animated turns as Fortune Teller and one of Jasmine’s attendants. Anani brings a refreshingly sharp vibrancy to her relatively minor roles.

Fans of all ages will enjoy this production of “Aladdin” for its enchanting story and music, glowing staging and charismatic leads. Though the spectacle is enough of a lure, the production is especially commendable for casting (by Tara Rubin Casting and Kevin Metzger-Timson) that aligns talented actors more closely with the story’s setting—“A Whole New World” indeed.

Disney’s “Aladdin” continues at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, through Sept. 23, with shows Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $32 and can be purchased by calling the box office at (866) 755-2929 or visiting Run time is 2 hours and 30 minutes, including intermission.

Aladdin” will also perform at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa from May 7 to 12, 2024. For tickets and information, visit or call (714) 556-2787.


bottom of page