11:30 am EDT, July 29, 2013

Starkid’s ‘Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier’ spoiler-free review

Team Starkid’s newest musical, Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier, just ended its month-long run at the Greenhouse Theater Center in Chicago this past Sunday with two back-to-back performances. While it always seems impossible for Starkid to top what they’ve already done, Twisted may be one of their best shows yet.

Twisted is essentially the Wicked version of Disney’s Aladdin. While it does deviate from the Disney film and include more details from the original Aladdin stories, it does definitely make you see the 1992 film in a different light. The musical includes all of your favorite Aladdin characters and gives them slightly new personalities.

From start to finish, the musical is smart, lively, and just outright hilarious. There were so many moments throughout the two and a half hour production that made us laugh until we cried. From silly situations and one-liners, to running Disney gags, Twisted made us laugh harder and more frequently than any other Starkid production we’ve seen to date. The musical never slows down, even when it reaches the second act. In our opinion, the second act may have been even better than the fantastic first act.

But even though the musical was incredibly funny, it also had a really heartfelt storyline involving Jafar. While we won’t divulge what that storyline involves, we will say that it’s beautiful enough to truly make your heart melt. Out of the entire musical, there was only one moment in the musical’s second act that we found a little off-putting, but it passes quickly and is surrounded by so many other great moments.

Like other Starkid productions, Twisted includes dozens of fun references for both Aladdin and general Disney fans alike. The whole first song is one long stream of references to both common Disney tropes and a few Disney movies other than Aladdin as well. There are even a few surprises for Disney fans that are sprinkled throughout the musical that you truly have to see to believe. A few times, we found ourselves wondering, “Did that just happen?”

One of the greatest things about Twisted is that it has more musical numbers than any other Starkid production that has come before it. They all run seamlessly into the narrative, including the more gag joke-like numbers. The songs range everywhere from impossibly silly (think on the level of “Robin Sucks”) to tear-jerking (like “The Way I Do”). We can’t wait for the Twisted soundtrack to come out so that we can listen to it on repeat.

Lastly, in terms of performances, we won’t tell you which actors played which Twisted characters, but we will say that there were a few stand-out performances that left us in awe (especially from the person who played Jafar). Robert Manion (the “fan-turned-friend”), Alex Paul, and Rachael Soglin, the three fresh faces in this production, really hold their own and fit in well with the rest of the Starkid actors. In fact, Robert Manion had us laughing almost every time he was on stage or in the aisles. We look forward to hopefully seeing more of them in the future.

We cannot give enough credit to Matt Lang, Nick Lang, and Eric Kahn Gale for writing such a great musical or to Brian Holden for his direction. Once Starkid eventually releases Twisted online or possibly takes the show on tour, we know all of you Starkid fans will love it. (We do have to warn you though that the language isn’t really suited for small children, so if you were planning on sharing Twisted with younger siblings or cousins, we suggest waiting a few years.) Out of all of the musicals and performances that Team Starkid has done over the years, we have to say that Twisted is definitely a contender for being our favorite.

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