When Disney’s Aladdin debuted on Broadway nearly five years ago, audiences clamored for the nostalgia of some of their favorite tunes like “A Whole New World” and “Prince Ali.” But it was the new songs by original Aladdin songwriter Alan Menken and Broadway lyricist Chad Beguelin that packed the biggest surprise.
Princess Jasmine earned her solo “These Palace Walls” when Aladdin hit the New Amsterdam Theatre in 2014—but that wasn’t always the freewheeling royal’s song. “My initial agenda when we brought the show to Broadway was I really want to bring in the songs that Howard [Ashman] and I had written that didn’t make it into the movie,” Menken confesses in the video above.
The song “Call Me a Princess” was version 1.0 of Jasmine’s solo. (Hear a clip of it above.) “But the effect was we're not really establishing enough of an emotional connection with Jasmine,” Menken says. What Menken wrote (and what you hear in the show and on the cast recording) is a juxtaposition of Jasmine’s restricted life as daughter to the Sultan (in the staccato verses) and the worldly freedom she dreams of “beyond these palace walls” (in the sweeping melody of the chorus).
“These Palace Walls” fits in seamlessly as one of the new songs in the score for the Broadway musical. “Every musical has its DNA that gets established early on,” says Menken. “You go back to the palette, but then you also look at the moment.”
Stay tuned to Playbill.com for upcoming Aladdin “Genesis of a Song” videos.