To see a world-class ballet in Chicago is stunning. To watch it when it’s accompanied by the musicians in the Chicago Philharmonic? Well, then the show is almost irresistible.
Such is the case with the Houston Ballet’s performance of “Aladdin,” which made a brief stop at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. To sum up the show in two words: it’s beautiful.
Would I recommend it to families? The answer is a confident yes. But not really for ages 8 and under. For one thing, the ballet is 2 hours and 40 minutes long (with two intermissions). Even though it’s based on the Disney movie, the story moves slowly (as is often the case with ballets) and is a little hard to follow.
But the ballet itself is all you would want in a big-city, big-stage performance. The set is colorful, ranging from a bustling Middle Eastern market to a cave filled with lighted stalactites (they come sliding down from the ceiling during one set-change highlight).
The graceful, talented dancers constantly change from one elaborate costume to another, giving the show a nice, family-friendly pace.
The Chicago Philharmonic is like the whipped cream on top of the sundae — just the wonderful add-on that makes the show extra special. The live music played by more than 50 musicians carries you into the story and scenes. Be sure to walk with the kids down to the orchestra pit before the show or during the intermissions, to watch the musicians warming up.
The 125-year-old Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University is part of the show. The national historic landmark has become one of the top places in Chicago to go for world-class dance performances, You’ll want to stare up at the gold-plated ceiling, admire the architecture, and peer into the curved side balconies.
Chicago is a great place for family theater and dance performances. But regardless of which city you see the Houston Ballet’s “Aladdin,” it’s worth making room for on your calendar.
For a full calendar of dance performances this year in Chicago, see AuditoriumTheatre.org.