‘Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp’ at The Puppet Co.

The Puppet Co. presents a gorgeously delivered production of Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp, written by Vera C. Hughes and Allan Stevens and inspired by its original version in One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. Elizabeth Dapo and Joshua Aaron Rosenblum perform alongside Christopher Piper, who is also in charge of Direction, Lighting, and Video Animation.

The Genie. Photo by Christopher Piper.
The Genie. Photo by Christopher Piper.

Set and Costume Designer Allen Stevens drapes the stage (and performers!) in sweeping drapes of colorful fabric, with a projection screen framed by two towering onion domes. Throughout the show, the projection screen shows a variety of settings that look like they came right out of a bright coloring book; from looming pyramids and stretching desert sands to a jewel-filled cave and luxurious palace, the projections are richly detailed. There is also a lot of interactive animation that adds another level of creativity to the story (Aladdin climbing up through the depths of a cave is a particularly good one). However, the half-life-sized rod puppets are the main attraction here, and they are as beautifully intricate as ever and manipulated with fine-tuned skill.

In the exotic setting of Ancient Persia, an adventurous tale unfolds around a greedy magician, a mischievous young boy, and a rusty old lamp that yields great power. The two men are pitted against each other in a decades-long struggle over ownership of the lamp, during which fortunes pile up (literally!) and palaces hurtle through the sky! The highlight moments of this show are the grand entrances of the Genie (a massive, muscled puppet with a booming voice) and the beautiful princess, who rides in through the audience on an elephant! The power of the lamp has helped Aladdin gain the life he always desired, but when his wife, riches, and treasured lamp are stolen from him, will he be able to find a way to re-claim what was lost?

This is not the Disney version of Aladdin that you grew up with, and Piper is clear about this before the show even begins. He talks with the children in the audience about the authenticity of the version that they are about to see, including different pronunciations of names, as well as other details. This is one consistent thing that I truly love about the Puppet Co.: they perform the familiar stories that you love and cherish in their truest version, and it is always incredibly interesting and just different enough to make it a new experience. The vibrant storytelling mixed with the jaw-dropping puppetry makes this venue one of my very favorite places to visit for children’s theater.

Photo by Christopher Piper.
Photo by Christopher Piper.

The Puppet Co.’s production of Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp is a must-see for everyone in the family!

Running Time: One hour, without an intermission.

Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp plays through March 15, 2015 at The Puppet Co. – 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, call (301) 634-5380, or purchase them online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif


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