If only the Genie could grant the touring production of "Disney's Aladdin" two more wishes.
One would be for petty-thief-turned-would-be-prince Aladdin, the other for Princess Jasmine. Snap a finger and make the performers playing these romantic leads stronger, not just good looking. Give them magnetism, spot-on pitch and vocal power so that the return of this Alan Menken musical to Minneapolis is something that makes us gasp with joy instead of recoil in shock.
OK, that's more than two wishes, but you get the idea.
Director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw's Tony-winning Broadway tour of "Aladdin" wowed Twin Cities audiences in 2017, a splashy show with terrific performances and beautiful effects. Nicholaw directs and choreographs this engagement, too, which plays through Sunday at the Orpheum Theatre.
The production has similarly eye-popping and gaudy design and effects as it evokes the warm, desert-hued milieu of Agrabah. There, love, the lust for power and male chauvinist traditions collide as Jasmine becomes a beacon for 21st-century princesshood.
Frankly, I was looking forward to this Disney fantasy as an escape from the deep pain and agony that emanates daily from the real world where the action is based.
If the production did not entirely take me away, it does have talent to sing about. Marcus Martin is fabulous as the Genie. He has charisma for days plus strong vocals and excellent acting chops. He wows on "Friend Like Me," the most challenging and literally breathtaking number in the show.
If Martin's star increases during the performance, it's because those who are supposed to carry the show alongside him are clearly weak and wanting.
Senzel Ahmady, who plays Jasmine, had pitch problems at Tuesday's opening. That partly explains why her volume was so low. She seems to get smaller in a role that's supposed to open up and swell along with our emotions.
Adi Roy was a touch better as Aladdin. But he, too, was often a shrinking star with diminishing vocal power. That made the pair's duet on "A Whole New World," a potential showstopper in any production of "Aladdin," an underwhelming disappointment.
As they ride in the starry sky on their magic carpet — a beautiful effect that seemed effortless — one wondered if what we are seeing was supposed to be a bad joke. Seated and leaning into each other, the couple look like they were at an audition where they are told to be terrible. Their struggle for vocal clarity and emotional truth grounded the whole scene.
There's lots of talent in the supporting, secondary cast, however. Anand Nagraj is entertaining as Jafar, the sultan's chief adviser who has designs on the throne and an enchanting evil laugh. Aaron Choi's Iago also is broadly amusing, if just on the edge of some discomfiting stereotypes.
The production boasts a lot of updates, especially in its references, since it was last in town. Its Bollywood influences are more pronounced. It, like "Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas" at the Children's Theatre Company, nods to the Griddy. There's the Wakanda salute, and on and on.
These elements help to give the production an immediacy and fun air. But it's too bad they are not enough to make "Aladdin" a magical ride.
When: 7:30 p.m. Fri., 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 1 & 6:30 p.m. Sun.
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.
Tickets: $40-$179. hennepintheatretrust.org.