After two years of painstaking delays and postponements, the inaugural performance of Moonlit Theatre is now up and running at the Algonquin Commons Theatre. Moonlit Theatre is the brainchild of Jason Sedlar and Lisa Meuser, both seasoned members of the theatre community. “Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier” was directed by Sedlar, and co-produced by Sedlar and Meuser. With a wealth of experience among the rest of the production team, it’s no surprise that this show was so incredible.
“Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier” offers a new spin on the Disney classic Aladdin. Anyone who grew up a Disney fan likely has fond memories of the character Aladdin. Personally, I remember him as being a charismatic, well-intentioned guy, who, despite sometimes making poor choices, was ultimately a good guy. I recall him being a romantic, who would do anything for the honour of marrying the beautiful Princess Jasmine, even endure the wrath of the evil protagonist Ja’far.
Well, “Twisted,” as a parody of Aladdin, shows us the real story, from the perspective of Ja’far. Aladdin, portrayed as a “sex-crazed ruffian,” has but one goal in mind….sex. He leads an impious life of crime, robbing people, and fueling his primal desires, particularly his lust (not so much love), for Princess Jasmine.
Meuser had recommended that I brush up on my Disney movie knowledge prior to seeing this show. I decided not to, though, with the hopes of writing a review from the perspective of a non-Disney fanatic. I was certainly not disappointed, and although I may have missed a few jokes and one-liners, I found the performance to be both hilarious and engaging. With such a strong production team, it came as no surprise that the cast was also incredible. I’ve seen a few of them perform before, including Damien Broomes (Shrek: The Musical, and Sister Act), Julie Seguin (Falsettos, and 9 to 5), and Jordan Quayle (Wolves). With that being said, let’s take a look at my choices for stand out performances!
The first standout was by far my favourite of the show. With an energetic stage presence and incomparable ability to entertain, Jacob Bradbury was just outstanding! He played several roles in the ensemble, but finished off as the quirky and hysterical Genie. No spoiler alerts from me, but the antics that he pulls off at the end of the show had me in stitches; what a truly amazing performer. I will say that the full range of his talents were not showcased until near the end of the performance! I was shocked to see that this is his first show in Ottawa, having grown up in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. His experience and list of credits are very impressive, and I truly hope that we see more of him in future shows in Ottawa.
As a second stand out performance, I have to acknowledge Mathieu Roy’s portrayal as Ja’far. Roy’s ability to maintain the intense facial expressions of his character for so long is impressive, especially considering his nearly continuous presence on stage. He was absolutely perfect in this role, and to top it off, he also demonstrated outstanding vocal abilities, particularly in “A Thousand and One Nights”, and “If I Believed.” He was the glue that held this show together, and his portrayal of Ja’far made it really enjoyable!
As mentioned, the entire cast was excellent, but I wanted to do just a few more shoutouts. First, Julie Seguin was once again outstanding, this time in her role as Sherezade. Her exceptional vocals were demonstrated in “A Thousand and One Nights” with Roy. Next, Corgan Svendson was great in his portrayal of Aladdin (at least in this parodical version). I don’t think he would be my first choice in the more commonly recognized “good-guy” Aladdin character from the Disney movie, but here he was excellent! I also really enjoyed the animals in this performance, so both Adam Goldberg (Bird) who was absolutely ridiculous, and Alana Malanga (Monkey) deserve mention. In one scene in particular, Malanga let out the best monkey screeching noise that I’ve ever heard….LOVED IT!!
My only cast regret is that Damien Broomes didn’t have as large of a role in this show as he has in previous shows. He was absolutely outstanding in the previous two shows that I’ve seen him in, and it would have been nice to see more, but with his talent, I have no doubt that I will see him starring in something again soon.
The magic in this performance was brought to life by the hard work of numerous people behind the scenes. I would be remiss not to offer a shoutout here to the efforts of the wardrobe team for Twisted; led by Hannah Lundigran, this team went above and beyond on all of the costumes. The set design was simple, but very effective, making great use of the screen hanging in the back ground. The lighting was spot on, and the sound quality was fantastic.
Two of my favourite songs were “Follow the Golden Rule” which had me smiling away and tapping along. It was a great! I also loved “Take Off Your Clothes”, which, as one might suspect, was really funny. The whole show was great, and at only 2 hours, it’s the perfect runtime for a musical theatre production. If you’ve never been to the Algonquin Commons Theatre, it is a remarkable venue with exceptionally high-quality technical features and very comfortable seats.
The bad news about “Twisted” is that it’s only running for three shows!! This Friday and Saturday have evening shows at 7pm, with a matinee on Saturday afternoon (December 17th and 18th). Tickets are available through the Algonquin Commons Box Office. I would absolutely recommend taking in this entertaining, hilarious show while you have the chance!