The Puppet Co. uses all kinds of wizardry, creative projection design, and of course, terrific puppetry to bring the ageless tale of Aladdin to life. Just when you thought you knew all there was to know about the story, leave it to Christopher Piper and company to sneak nuggets of insight and awareness into the entertainment.
Who knew that the Middle Eastern pronunciation of the title character places the accent on the third syllable? And, what about the back-story of how Aladdin found his precious lamp? Piper explains these particulars, then the show begins with the melodic tonality of a clarinet wafting along the luscious set.
A mysterious stranger peers into a magic bowl seeking the location of hidden treasures, riches and fortunes. The video projections weave seamlessly into the story as a charming voice guides the stranger to walk past rooms filled with precious jewels and gold, since something even more precious lies ahead.
Okay, so now they’ve really got our interest—what could be more precious than gold? Well, the lamp, of course. But only a small boy can get through the cave to reach it, and if that doesn’t happen soon, the opportunity will disappear as quickly as smoke since the cave will close off for hundreds of years.
With that as an opener, the stage is set for the stranger to come across Aladdin who is more prone to playful heists, including sweet banters that nearly exasperate his Mom, instead of anything resembling responsible behavior. The half life-size rod puppets are attired to the gills with beautiful sweeping robes, and when the stranger pretends to be a long-lost relative, he takes Aladdin to three merchants who outfit the boy in sparkling emerald attire.
Aladdin’s adventures begin when the stranger coerces him into the deep, dark cave to secure the treasures but abandons him when the opening slams shut. By this time, we are enamored with the lad and anxious for his safety, so we’re glad that he invokes the power of an emergency ring and zooms safely home, where he carries the lamp home to his mother.
With no awareness of the power of a rub, the two attempt to rub off the tarnish to sell the old thing—when poof, we all know what’s inside, although we’re not prepared for the size of the genie that appears in the smoke. He’s gy-normous, a full half body-size, bulked up blue muscle man asking for the will of his master. Wow!
The production is filled with such unusual treats, like watching Aladdin grow up into a graceful young man with just a few puppet twists. There’s also the entrance of the beautiful princess from the back of the playhouse, riding an elephant! The princess is so ravishingly beautiful, we are supposed to avert our eyes as she passed, but who follows the rules in puppetry? We stared and gawked at the entire contraption with her riding on top, just as regal as you please. It was beautiful.
Aladdin is as smitten as are we, and of course seeks her hand in marriage. And despite being a peasant, he is able to produce the bountiful golden trinkets required because of his secret wish-granter. Just when they are about to live happily ever after, the mysterious stranger appears again, and finds a way to steal the lamp, the genie, and the new beautiful wife.
ALADDIN AND HIS WONDERFUL LAMP
Feb 19 – March 15
The Puppet Co
Glen Echo Park
7300 MacArthur Blvd.
Glen Echo, MD
Thursdays thru Sundays
Tickets or call 301-634-5380
What’s a love-stricken lad to do? Especially when the bad guy has the powerful genie in his command? This rendition of Aladdin will keep you on the edge of your seat with anticipation and delight.
As in previous productions, the Puppet Company finds fresh new ways to share age-old tales where the characters have distinct personalities and wit. Elizabeth Dapo and Joshua Aaron Rosenblum joined Piper in operating the puppets. Puppet design, direction, lighting and video animation were all Piper’s handiwork, while Allan Stevens orchestrated the set and costume design, and Mayfield Piper, complete in her own billowing pants attire, competed the costumes.
The Puppet Co’s Aladdin was cited in the Washington Post weekender Express as a “must see.” I agree. The puppetry is divine, and the lavish tale from “One Thousand and One Arabian Nights,” is presented with an exotic flair for an “only at the Puppet Company” experience.
Aladdin and his wonderful lamp . Produced by The Puppet Co. . Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson.