* * * - Very Good
It's the plot that you knew,
with a small twist or two.
The only way I seem to be able to talk about these Disney Broadway adaptations is in terms of how faithful they are to the source and whether the new material adds or takes away. Beauty and the Beast is overly-faithful, The Lion King is expertly designed but the new material is terrible and the poorly-constructed first act of Mary Poppins is more than made up for with an amazing Act 2 (which is also where most of the new material can be found.)
Aladdin is rather brief for a Stage Musical (2hrs 15min, not counting the intermission), and the changes are necessary adjustments from Animation to Live Theater. The monkey, parrot and tiger are gone (all replaced by human characters) along with Jafar's snake transformation, and the Cave of Wonders is just a walk outside the city. They don't mess with the classics. "Friend Like Me" was a show-stopper before it ever went live, and it remains the highlight of Act 1, much like "Prince Ali" is the perfect energy raiser to start Act 2. "A Whole New World" captures the magic of the flying carpet and "One Jump Ahead" does what it needs to.
The best of the new material is replacing the monkey Abu with a trio of friends for Aladdin. Their two numbers ("Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim" and "High Adventure") are as good as the familiar tunes, possibly because Howard Ashman wrote the lyrics, but they're also expertly choreographed. "Somebody's Got Your Back" is another good new tune. The rest are largely forgettable but I wouldn't call them bad. Another plus is the opener, "Arabian Nights", which is brief in the movie but here introduces all the characters on the streets of Agrabah and has a strong Fiddler on the Roof vibe to the exuberant dancing.
I'm a fan of clever set design in a musical, easily impressed by the number of locations they can raise and lower into a single spot. For example, when this begins with Genie in front of dunes of sand, I expected the dunes to slide left and right to reveal Agrabah, but instead it rises up creating a canopy of fabric. The tiger head entrance to the Cave of Wonders is full-sized, and when Aladdin enters, the set splits in half to reveal the view of the tiger from inside the cave. While enjoying that bit of magic, all manner of gold pieces slide in from all directions and the transformation is complete.