"I think it's fantastic I get to take a role like Aladdin — something I've loved since I was a kid, watching that movie over and over," said Jacobs (Les Misérables, The Lion King), who starred in the show's Seattle premiere and Toronto engagement alongside Reed (In the Heights, Mamma Mia!). "It's every actor's dream to take a role like that and make it their own and to originate a role on Broadway — that's something I've always wanted to do since I was an actor when I was in seventh grade playing Oliver!"
"For me," Reed added, "I was obsessed with all the Disney princesses, but I was especially obsessed with Jasmine because she looked like me! She actually, I think, was the first Disney princess of ethnic background… She had the olive-shaped eyes and the tan skin and the long, jet-black hair, and that was the first time I felt like I could really connect with a character like that."
James Monroe Iglehart, of Broadway's Memphis, also reprises his show-stopping performance as the Genie, and Jonathan Freeman, who voiced the nefarious villain Jafar in the 1992 film and reprised his performance on stage, again plays that role.
Read the Playbill.com Brief Encounter with Freeman, who talks about returning to the fictional land of Agrabah. Tony Award-winning director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon) is at the helm of Aladdin, which — through bright colors and flashy choreography — takes audiences to the Middle East.
"You kind of begin with the movie. That's kind of where you have to begin," Nicholaw explained to Playbill.com at the show's press day. "We're taking a lot of stuff that was originally in the movie that was cut from it. There's like six songs that were originally in it, and there's three characters that were originally in the movie that were cut, so it's about bringing those guys back on stage."
Brian Gonzales, Brandon O'Neill and Jonathan Schwartz play Aladdin's sidekicks Babkak, Kassim and Omar, respectively, and Tony nominee Clifton Davis plays the Sultan with Don Darryl Rivera as Iago. Merwin Foard and Michael James Scott standby for several principals.
Rounding out the cast are Tia Altinay, Mike Cannon, Andrew Cao, Lauryn Ciardullo, Joshua Dela Cruz, Yurel Echezarreta, Daisy Hobbs, Donald Jones, Jr., Adam Kaokept, Nikki Long, Stanley Martin, Brandt Martinez, Michael Mindlin, Rhea Patterson, Bobby Pestka, Khori Petinaud, Aleks Pevec, Ariel Reid, Jennifer Rias, Trent Saunders, Jaz Sealey, Dennis Stowe, Marisha Wallace and Bud Weber.
|photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann|
The stage production, which expands the 90-minute film into a two-act format, has music by Alan Menken, lyrics by the late Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin. Nicholaw directs and choreographs.
Menken previously told Playbill.com that the stage production incorporates many ideas he and Ashman conceived for the 1992 film that never made it to the screen. Among them are a trio of Aladdin's friends, Omar, Babkak and Kassim, as well as a handful of early songs including "Proud of Your Boy."
The New Amsterdam Theatre box office is open Monday-Saturday from 10 AM–8 PM and Sunday from 10 AM–6:30 PM, and tickets are also available at AladdinTheMusical.com or by calling Ticketmaster's Disney on Broadway hotline at (866) 870-2717.
Here's how the new musical is billed: "Aladdin, adapted from the Disney film and centuries-old folktales including 'One Thousand and One Nights' is brought to fresh theatrical life in this exuberant new musical. Aladdin's journey will sweep audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance. This new production features a full score, including the five cherished songs from the Academy Award winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage."
Aladdin is designed by six-time Tony-winning scenic designer Bob Crowley, three-time Tony-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz, two-time Tony-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes and sound designer Ken Travis.
The production team also includes illusion designer Jim Steinmeyer and hair designer Josh Marquette. The music team is headed by music supervisor and music director Michael Kosarin, who also created the vocal and incidental music arrangements, joined by orchestrator Danny Troob and dance music arranger Glen Kelly.
Meet the cast: