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THEATER REVIEW / 'ALADDIN AND THE MAGIC LAMP' : Genie Genius : The company retains some traditional elements, uses some from the Disney version and adds a few touches of its own.


Never afraid or too embarrassed to capitalize on what's in the news, the canny proprietors of the Magnificent Moorpark Melodrama & Vaudeville Company have switched their current production from the initially announced "Ali Baba" to "Aladdin and the Magic Lamp." They thus manage to keep timely while preserving the costume order.

Tim Kelly's script under the direction of Steve Robertson retains some elements of the traditional tale, some from the Disney version, and adds a few touches of its own. The result last rainy weekend was, for what it's worth, the biggest audience and strongest response of any first-Saturday matinee performance in recent memory.

As in the Disney version, the Genie of the Lamp gets most of the opportunity to show off. Chris Carnicelli takes the opportunity and runs with it, evoking the spirit of the Robin Williams portrayal without copying it and winning plenty of laughs in the process.

William Shupe II stars as Aladdin, the quick-witted--and quite lucky--street urchin who eventually wins the hand of Princess Jasmine (Jennifer Tash), despite the machinations of evil wizard Jammal (James Harlow). Instead of a parrot, this Jammal's partner-in-crime is his sister, the equally malevolent Halima (Mary Valmonte).

Ancillary human characters include Aladdin's mother (Susan Sexton) and sister (Alisa Nelson), Jasmine's parents (Robert L. Plunkett and the very funny Fae Simmons), and various dancing girls, etc.

There's also Aladdin's monkey, Alakazam (KC Coleman), a fire-breathing dragon (Jason Rasmussen, aided by the Melodrama's nervy special-effects department), and two more genies than the Disney version, the Genie of the Ring (Deborah Webster) and the remarkably similar-looking Genie of the Jewels (also Deborah Webster).

The songs are all evidently original, save Aladdin's heartfelt rendition of the old Tony Bennett hit "Rags to Riches."

A revue of songs with an Arabian Nights theme follows each performance.


"Aladdin and the Magic Lamp" continues Thursdays through Sundays through April 3 at the Magnificent Moorpark Melodrama & Vaudeville Company, 45 E. High St. in Moorpark. Performances are 7 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with matinees at 3 Saturdays and Sunday, March 21 only. Tickets for all performances are $12; group rates are available. For further information, call 529-1212.

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