Any theatre lover knows how annoying it is when you have settled down for the play then a random person walks in ten seconds late, usually after the national anthem, hissing ‘sorry’ as they knock your knees. Usually I am on the receiving end of the knocked knees but this past weekend I was the culprit. See the show, Alladdin by the Hoodwink9 Theatre, read about them here, was sold out. They were sold out by Friday and there I was on a Sunday accompanied by my teenage sibling and no tickets. You should know by now teenagers have no patience. We had to wait for everyone to settle in and if, key word being if, there were extra seats then we would have the opportunity to catch the play. We lucky enough to get two seats a bit further from each other. We did not mind. We had seats. I have to commend the team for beginning the show on time. I resisted the urge to watch the movie before the play because I wanted the play to take me back there. It did. It felt mystical. It’s like they teleported us to a space that just draws you in. May be I take this too seriously.



lynn gabriella and chandni vaya

The first monologue by Lynn Gabriella gave the show a powerful start. Then we met Aladdin (Anubav Garg ). Let me just say this, that guy looks like Aladdin. Complete with the locks and googly eyes and the tone of his voice. His friend Abu had the best expressions. When your character is dependent on your gestures and no monologue, it is easy to slip in and out of character. He never once lost it and that made Aladdin stronger character. That is professional acting right there. Aladdin seamlessly waltzed and made it look very easy. All the jumping around and flying. Yes they were flying all over the stage. The ‘flying mat’  has to receive an award for how she stayed put her arms stretched out, parallel to the floor, without toppling over,when Aladdin was not flying on it.

Jaffar (Kunjan D) was the character you loved to hate. With timely funny one liners he had the kids shrilling with joy. His hypnotizing was a good sell. I think it got to some of us.  Iago’s, Jaffar’s ally in the antagonistic corner, demeanour was a bit scary. She had a presence with her that commanded respect even before uttering a word. Her height was juxtaposed with her character because no one could believe that huge voice came from such a petite frame. I see what the director, Sahil Gada did there.

Which brings me to my favourite character. Geenie. Bilal Wanjau was the perfect person to depict this role. He did it with so much ease and he looked comfortable on stage, owing to his vast experience on both TV and stage. Not in the kind that comes off as gloating. There are two kind of comfortable; where you are so comfortable and end up not doing the character justice and the other where it does not look like you are acting. It feels right. In this case, it felt right. He was hilarious and every time he entered the scene we all cracked up without knowing what he would say next.


Isn’t this the hardest part of any classic? The cast brought their own personality in each rendition of the different songs. Aladdin and the princess (Chandni Vaya), another spot on casting decision, had their duet on the mat as they sang A Whole New World. I was on the edge with this one because there has been so many version and that made us bias to theirs. However, they did not appear to worry about that. They did it their own way and that made them relatable. When their faces came too close, I squirmed given the number of the kids in the auditorium. Too many awkward questions would have followed with my brother. Nothing happened. Thankfully.



Female dancers on stage

Again what is a musical without some dancing? I loved each set of the dancers. The choreographer, Hinal Dhakkar, stepped out and presented a fusion of African, Indian and contemporary dance that made it all better. There were the mixed sets and others by the girls and the boys. The girls, who have worked together before, were in sync and each one of them let their personality ooze. The boys, however, some who had never been on stage prior to this production had a few off steps. There was a lot of checking what the other is doing which stems from stage fright and self-doubt. Their acrobatic set though was the amazing and you could tell that was their zone. No stunt was too hard them then. The audience loved it as well and the nice five year old boy who kept screaming with each jump and roll was reminded me the whole time.

Set & Lighting


The cast on stage

You can tell the budget of a production by the set. With Aladdin, Hoodwink9 ran the risk of having too much on stage as they had to create the different worlds on one stage. However the set designer, the one who decides what is hammered where, what shade of yellow to use and all that, applied the less is more rule. The cast also helped in recreating some of the scenes, like the market, which is clever because when they exit so does the set. Then came the lighting, the secret behind any magic on a set. With each theme came lighting that allowed us to be in the moment. Also, it was on cue. I once watched a play where the light cues were late. So one of the actors was in the dark delivering a monologue when the light came on while he was way into his act. He jerked before trying to remember where he was. It was not pretty. The minute an actor is worried about the details behind the scenes then they can commit to their role a hundred percent.

Makeup & Wardrobe

A character is made more believable by make-up and wardrobe. Genie was so green I obsessed over how long of a shower he needed to take after that. Then the kid in my ear asked,

“Mummy where did they find real Geenie”.

At this point she was tired of trying to keep him quiet that she said,

“He came from the magical lamp”.  The boy then jumped up and down again.

Some kids from the audience capture a moment with Aladdin

Some kids from the audience capture a moment with Aladdin

Each character looked that part and against that set we were all in Agrabah. Good job to the team. You outdid yourself with this one. However, will there be a second run? May be sometime in October. Do it for the kids who had sad faces when they learned that could not watch the show because it was sold out. For the parents who tried but failed to ignore their kids’ disappointment in them. Yes? Thanks much.

*Images used in this article are the property of Yousufotography.