Mel Shields: Fun with 'Aladdin' at the Eldorado

Published: Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 4TICKET

Just as they were encouraged to boo Captain Hook last year every time he stepped onto the Eldorado stage in "Peter Pan," kids are being coached to do so with Abanazar Jafar, villain in the current holiday production of "Aladdin."

They do so with extreme enthusiasm because this show, even more than "Peter Pan," is full of audience participation and appeals strongly to an age group that couldn't give a hoot about such things as coherent plots. There is a hero who is young and handsome, a villain who is older and mustached, and silliness galore.

Who could ask for anything more?

Oh, yes, there is more – 3-D. Audience members are given polarized glasses when they enter and are told when to put them on during the show. At that point, the center of the stage becomes much like a multidimensional movie screen, with all sorts of things popping out of it: scary critters such as spiders and bats, along with rocks, jewels and, of course, a genie.

It all works surprisingly well. It lacks the clarity of today's movie technology, but when a button appears in front of your face with urgent appeals from the actors on the stage not to push it, the illusion is sharp enough to make even grownups want to reach into thin air and check it out.

The story of Aladdin is part of the public domain and therefore open to any mischief. This show, directed by Quintin Young, does not even pretend to follow either the original story or the Disney version. Narrated by Ali Baba (the very talented Christopher Wren), and starring the amiable Cameron Smith as Aladdin, Marissa Joy as Princess Jasmine, Roy Richardson as Jafar (who is also a magician) and the charming Jessica Mann as Yu Yin, the story works its way toward the climax with abundant social and cultural references, very few of which have anything to do with the Middle East.

Gags and tricks abound. Princess Jasmine appears out of a magic box ("of Pandora"), and Ali Baba is tortured inside the classic Zig-Zag box – his lower half is separated from his upper. There are three martial-artist characters who perform a leaping, sword-flashing dance and battle to the finish with Aladdin and Ali Baba.

The children of the cast perform a techno-robotic- acrobatic number. The music ranges from "I'm A Believer" to, believe it or not, "Thriller."

The story and action in "Aladdin" are clearly directed toward children, and the show is best enjoyed in their company. There is only one disturbing moment, and it has nothing to do with wicked critters or evil sorcerers. When a child is selected from the audience and given a fabric club with which to subdue the villain, please do not have him take a couple of practice swings at his mother. That is a message children can do without.

"Aladdin" runs at the Eldorado through Jan. 13. ($27.45, $35.15, $40.65, $46.15; at 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 3 and 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; 800-648-5966 or eldoradoreno.com)

Out and about:

"Live at Red Hawk Weekend" is what the resort in Shingle Springs is calling today through Sunday, when it will celebrate an all-new stage, lounge, bar and dance floor. Three tribute bands will perform: Journey Unauthorized tonight, Chicago Tribute Authority on Saturday and Paperback Writer on Sunday (all at 6:30 p.m.; free; redhawkcasino.com.).

• "Christmas With Aaron Neville" Saturday at Harrah's Tahoe should allow plenty of opportunity for the singer's trademark falsetto, a vocal style he developed as a young boy copying Eddy Arnold's "Cattle Call." (7:30 p.m.; $49.50; Ticketmaster.com).

• Cache Creek in Brooks brings one of its free (to card holders; others pay $20) shows to the resort Saturday with "Unbreakable," a tribute to Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Marvin Gaye and Whitney Houston, among others. (8 p.m. cachecreek.com).

• More Motown shows up Saturday at Jackson Rancheria, only this time it's the real artists, or at least the current edition of a famous group. The Temptations, headed by longtime member Dennis Edwards, perform. (7 p.m.; $20, $40; jacksoncasino.com)

CASINO GUIDE

Boomtown, Reno – Events Center: Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats, Dec. 29. (800) 648-3790.

Carson Valley Inn – Cabaret Lounge: Steppen Stonz, today-Saturday; Paul Covarelli, Tuesday- Wednesday; Jo Mama, Thursday-Dec. 22; Scott Helmer, Dec. 24-25; Dale Poune, Dec. 26-27; After Dark, Dec. 28-31; the Motifs, Jan. 3-5. (775) 782-9711.

Eldorado, Reno –

Showroom: "Aladdin and His Lamp," Tuesdays- Sundays, through Jan. 13. (800) 648-5966.

Harrah's Reno –Sammy's Showroom: The Magic of Eli Kerr, Fridays-Saturdays, through Feb. 23. The Stage @ the Zone: Audioboxx, Dec. 28- 31; Jelly Bread, today-Saturday. Buddy Emmer Band, next Friday-Dec. 22; Chaparral, Jan. 4-5. (800) 427-7247.

Harrah's Lake Tahoe – South Shore Room: Christmas with Aaron Neville, Saturday; Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker, next Friday; Asleep at the Wheel, Dec. 22; Robert Randolph & the Family Band; Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Dec. 28; the Fab Four, Dec. 29; Tainted Love, Jan. 5; Jonny Lang, Jan. 12; (800) 427-7247.

Horizon, Lake Tahoe – Illusion Fusion starring Alex Ramon, Thursdays-Tuesdays. (775) 588-6211.

MontBleu Resort, Lake Tahoe – Daniel Tosh, Saturday. (888) 829-7630.

Silver Legacy, Reno – Gary Allan, Dec. 30. Elvis and Friends, Jan. 4-5. (800) 687-8733.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Mel Shields



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