Food, culture, Broadway and more

Art Shrian | 7/26/2018, 10:21 a.m.

There are a few sure things in life, and a lot of those actually come from the world of Disney. It’s the summer holiday season and if you are like most New Yorkers, you have a slew of visitors clamoring to stay at your apartment to save on those hefty hotel prices. “What’s new and exciting?” is the usual question, even for frequent guests.

What’s new isn’t “Aladdin” on Broadway, but by God it’s exciting. “Aladdin” is 90 minutes of spectacle from the award-winning team of Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin, who also wrote the book. It follows the ever so crafty, Aladdin (Telly Leung), a street urchin living by his wits on the streets of Agrabah. Aladdin wishes for a better life, while behind the specular palace walls Jasmine (Isabelle McCalla), suffocated by her staggering wealth, feels tied down and longs to break free from cultural traditions that are sexist.

The two meet on the grimy street, but Aladdin quickly realizes that the two can’t start a romance because she’s a princess and he’s not even close to being in her league. Things really shift when the sultan’s evil Grand Vizier Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) uses the clueless Aladdin to get a magical lamp. The scheme backfires and Aladdin ends up with the treasured item. On rubbing the lamp, he releases the all-powerful Genie, played to perfection by actor Major Attaway, who grants him three wishes. Giddy with power, and lovesick, Aladdin uses this opportunity to win the heart of Jasmine, take down Jafar and, in true Disney fashion, learn an important life lesson in the end about the value of friendship. This production is a musical and some of the best numbers include “Friend Like Me,” “Prince Ali,” “Proud to Be Your Boy,” “A Million Miles Away” and, of course, “A Whole New World.”

We caught up with the cast of “Aladdin” to get their suggestions on great places to eat (after their show, wink-wink) and unique places to visit in the city.

Leung: Whenever anyone asks me for things to do around the city, it’s always about food for me! Here are some of my favorite places.

Maharlika, 111 First Ave.

It’s Filipino food and though I’ve been eating it since the day I was born, Filipino food is finally making its way onto the mainstream restaurant scene.

Soft Swerve

85B Allen St.

I will go to this place any time of year. In fact, I once went here when it was snowing! That’s how good the soft serve is at Soft Swerve. I recommend the ube (purple yam), but I think my absolute favorite flavor there is the black sesame. Think peanut butter meets toasty warm goodness meets soft serve.

Attaway:  I would recommend City Island for anyone who is craving a seafood feast. There are a lot of options, and you can make it there via public transport. I had a fried lobster tail sitting a few feet away from the water!

Burkhardt: The Cloisters Museum, Fort Tyron Park and the Heather Garden are a perfect place to visit, bring a picnic or dine in at The New Leaf restaurant.