As I was seeing a musical that night, I thought I should have a musical dinner. I remember being suggested this diner before I’d left but forgotten about it until I walked past it. Well, it’s hard to miss. The corner is cover in bright neon signs that say ‘Ellen’s Stardust Diner’. Inside, the waiting staff sing to you as you dine and while they wait on you; microphones in one hand and drinks in the other. It was incredible. The staff are so talented and the food was really good! I had a massive bowl of chilli with red tortilla chips. I accidentally got drunk. One cocktail turned into two and asking for the bill turned into a third drink. I didn’t care. I was happy to stay. “Wonder what she’s doing now.” “I’m a waitress.”
The same person who told me to go to this diner also told me to see the Aladdin musical. You didn’t need to tell me twice. Aladdin is one of my favourite films. I’m not one for princesses. Yes yes, I know there’s Princess Jasmine. I’m referring to stuff like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid. My top five Disney films, in no particular order: Lion King, Lilo & Stitch, Tangled, Hercules and Aladdin. It wasn’t until Robin Williams’ tragic death and the cast sung for him, that I realised it was a stage musical. I had to see it.
I was not disappointed. To quote the Genie, it was fabulous. The costumes were fabulous. The actors were fabulous. The flying carpet was fabulous. I have no idea how they did it. I thought I knew, then something would happen that would rule that theory out. It was incredible production in its own right while keeping the charm of the original movie. It even had the original Jafar! Jonathan Freeman plays the evil Royal Vizier on both stage and screen.
Unfortunately, there was not a monkey or parrot in sight. Iago lives on in Don Darryl Rivera, a human just as wise cracking as any feathered creature. Abu is replaced by Aladdin’s new best friends: Kassim, Babkak and Omar. Together with Aladdin, they have one of the catchiest new songs of the show, High Adventure, adding comic relief when Genie is nowhere to be seen. Genie, played by James Monroe Iglehart, steals the show. Seriously, they should rename the show ‘Genie’.
I don’t normally hang around the stage door to meet the actors but I did after that show. I had to hug James Monroe Iglehart. I had to thank him for keeping Robin Williams alive in a way I’m sure he would have adored. I did. A little drunkenly, he was very gracious. I’ve listened to the soundtrack repeatedly since I got back. I wonder if it will ever come to Britain or if we’ve killed it through many, many Christmas Pantomimes with terrible actors from soaps.