Reviewed by David Smith
AYT have definitely found the right recipe for success. Their exuberant style, talented performers, quality costumes and sound sense of space make for guaranteed enjoyable performances. Opening night of their junior company's production of Disney's Aladdin Jr confirmed that reputation. AYT doesn't limit their young talent to the on-stage group. This production team, skilfully headed by directors Serena Martino-Williams and Leah Harford, MD Emily Grew and Choreographers Charlotte Hill and Hannah Dandie are themselves all young members of AYT and have impressive performance credits in their own right.
The opening night cast provided us with a tight, slick, well-balanced performance. Sebastian Skubula was a dashing Aladdin, and was well matched by Alana Iannace as Jasmine. They worked well together and sang beautifully. Deon Martino-Williams was a striking and menacing presence as Jafar, and was well-supported by his brother Angelo Martino-Williams as Razoul.
Oscar Bridges was cheekily animated and engaging as Iago, Jafar's chirpy side-kick. His timing and expression were exceptional.
And then came Nathan Stafford, superb as the cool-dude Genie. He performed with certainty and flair, grabbing the audience's attention from his first entrance, and holding it firmly from then on. He was genuinely funny and his physicality was boundless. He impressively led the whole ensemble in the big show stopper Friend Like Me.
As ever, AYT's strong dance base provided lots of context, colour and entertainment and in many ways formed the artistic framework for another polished production from this well-credentialed youth company.
Jasmin (Alana Innace) and Aladdin (Sebastin Skubla)