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Friday, March 6, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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`Aladdin' Takes Fans On An Icy `Magic-Carpet Ride'

Seattle Times Copy Editor

Ice show review "Disney on Ice - Aladdin," music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. KeyArena at Seattle Center, through Sunday. 206-628-0888.

In most ice shows, the big thrills happen when the skaters take momentary flight in a double axel or triple toe loop.

In this eye-popping production, the best moments are when the stars actually leave the ice - soaring on a "magic-carpet ride" that takes them high above their adoring audience.

By the climactic end of Wednesday night's opening performance of "Disney on Ice - Aladdin," most of the young fans at the KeyArena, and a good many of their parents, were transported as well - happily waving back to the performers and humming along to the strains of the show's Oscar-winning music.

In the words of the show's theme song, it truly was "A Whole New World."

Unlike the last "Disney on Ice" show to hit town - the rather sloppy and tired-looking "Beauty and the Beast" that played KeyArena in December - this is one ice extravaganza that's filled with energy and panache.

And unlike most of those "Beauty" performers, these people can actually skate.

Holding it all together, as Aladdin / Prince Ali, was the fleet-footed Jaimee Eggleton, an exuberant performer who was on the Canadian Olympic team in 1984.

Whether showing off his Princess Jasmine (Lynda Downey) in a difficult, one-arm lift, or flying into side-by-side backflips with his Genie (Christopher Shrimpling), Eggleton showed a level of skating ability that is unusual for a family revue of this nature.

As Princess Jasmine, Downey's technical ability was not quite up to Eggleton's, but she did display a number of crisp double jumps and an appealing, sweet-but-saucy presence on the ice.

Also of note were the gung-ho performances of the corps skaters - particularly the men - who showed off a fine array of Russian-split jumps, double axels and blur spins in the group numbers.

But the true stars, of course, were the folks responsible for the many lavish special effects used in the show, which is patterned closely on Disney's animated-film version of the story. (Throughout the show, the skaters lip-synced to piped-in dialogue and songs from the movie.)

The most charming of these effects: the transformation of a little skating rug into the "flying carpet" that takes Aladdin and Princess Jasmine on their magic rides.

The most scary: the metamorphosis of the villain, Jafar, into a terrifyingly immense serpent.

And a note for parents: As eye-catching as these effects are, some may be too intense - and loud - for some little ones.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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