THE history of the tale of Aladdin, the impoverished “street urchin” who is transformed magically into a prince, is as close to a textbook case of cultural appropriation as it is possible to find.

Although believed to have emerged from medieval Arabian folklore, the earliest known text of the story was written in 1712 by the French diplomat and scholar Antoine Galland.

The Frenchman claimed to have been told the tale of Aladdin by the Syrian storyteller Hanna Diyab. In the subsequent three centuries, the story has become embedded in the problematic Western tradition that the great Palestinian intellectual Edward Said named “Orientalism”.

Wrapped, as the story of Aladdin has been, in a range of Western clichés about the “exotic”, “magical” and “mysterious” Middle East, it was all but inevitable that the tale would end up in the hands of the Disney corporation. The musical version of Aladdin has been good to Disney, with an animated movie in 1992, a stage show in 2011, and a live-action film in 2019.

This latest UK and Ireland tour of the stage show (which has just begun in Edinburgh, and will alight in Glasgow in November of next year) is a testament to Disney’s capacity for generating theatre audiences off the back of movies. Indeed, the legions of schoolchildren who were shepherded into the Edinburgh Playhouse for last Wednesday’s matinee were the latest in a global audience for this theatre production that numbers more than 14 million.

The National: Disney Theatrical Productions present Aladdin, the musical, music Alan Menken, text Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book and additional text Chad Beguelin, .direction and choreography Casey Nicholaw..with Gavin Adams (Aladdin), Desmonda Cathabel (Jasmine),

Disney has long since learned how to avoid charges, if not of cultural appropriation, then certainly of lack of diversity. Not for director Thomas Schumacher, the kind of predominantly white Aladdins that have been seen so often on pantomime stages across the UK.

Instead, we have an ethnically diverse cast led by, and comprised mainly of, people of colour. Welcome as that is, the show still displays an all-too-predictable combination of Orientalist clichés (primarily Arabian and Turkic) and highly polished theatrical formulas.

Apart from the early moment in which Yeukayi Ushe’s Genie inadvertently pulls a tartan Tammy hat (rather than a lamp) out of his pocket, there is very little here to disturb the hyper-produced veneer of the show. Otherwise, from the feministic defiance of Desmonda Cathabel’s Princess Jasmine to the comic turns of Angelo Paragoso’s Iago (sidekick to the evil vizier Jafar), the production delivers on expectations with a laser-like precision.

The much-loved musical score (including its best, and best-known, number A Whole New World) is played and sung with the necessary gusto. In truth, however, some performers (including Gavin Adams as Aladdin) are better singers than they are actors.

The production delivers for those who wish for a stage musical that looks and sounds like a Disney film. However, as it moves from one slick, glamorous scene to the next (and one sugar-coated banality to another) one can’t help but feel that the show has a bulging purse where its heart should be.

At Edinburgh Playhouse until November 18, then touring until January 5, 2025: