"Another Arabian Night": Disney's Aladdin, Staged by Casey Nicholaw, Begins in Seattle July 7
By Adam Hetrick
The 1992 Disney animated musical Aladdin makes its full-length stage debut July 7 at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre. Tony Award-winning Book of Mormon director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw stages the production that features new and existing songs from the film.
The stage adaptation incorporates the Academy Award-winning songs from the 1992 film, penned by composer Alan Menken and lyricists Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, with a new book by Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), who has also penned new lyrics along with Menken. Aladdin also restores several songs that were cut prior to the original film release.
The two-hour and fifteen-minute pilot production, which officially opens July 21 for a run through July 31, is being used to launch the new two-act version as a licensable property for professional and amateur organizations through Music Theatre International, which handles rights for Disney Theatrical titles. Disney representatives told Playbill.com that the production is not being groomed for a Broadway future.
The cast includes Adam Jacobs (The Lion King) and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine, respectively, with James Monroe Iglehart (Memphis) as the Genie, and Tony Award nominee Jonathan Freeman, who voiced the nefarious villain Jafar in the 1992 animated Disney film, reprising his performance on stage.
Also appearing are Seattle actor Seán G. Griffin as the Sultan; Don Darryl Rivera as Iago; and, playing Omar, Babkak, and Kassim — a trio of characters originally conceived by the film's creators but not used — Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Brian Gonzales, and Brandon O'Neill, respectively.
Rounding out the ensemble are Tia Altinay, Kristin Culp, Nick DeSantis, Ronald Duncan, C.J. Eldred, Daisy Hobbs, David Janett, Kenway Hon Wai K. Kua, Nikki Long, Stanley Martin, Creighton Oliver, Shanna Marie Palmer, Bobby Pestka, Connor Russell, Manuel Santos, Allysa Shorte, Daniel J. Watts and Matt Wolfe.
This new stage version of Aladdin "incorporates all of the beloved songs from the film's Oscar-winning score plus never-before-heard Menken/Ashman songs restored from early drafts of the film. It marks a return to the authors' original vision: a loving homage to the Hope-Crosby road pictures with a score invoking the jazz sound of stars like Cab Calloway and Fats Waller," according to 5th Avenue notes.
The creative team includes set designer Anna Louizos (White Christmas, In The Heights), Tony Award-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes (The Drowsy Chaperone, Mame at The 5th Avenue), Tony Award-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz (Beauty and the Beast, Aida), dance arranger Glen Kelly (The Producers, Drowsy Chaperone) and musical supervisor Michael Kosarin (Beauty and the Beast, Sister Act).
Casey Nicholaw most recently earned the Tony Award for Best Direction, along with Trey Parker, for The Book of Mormon. Nicholaw was also honored with a Tony nomination for his choreography for that production. He also received Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations for his work on The Drowsy Chaperone as well as Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations for Best Choreography for Spamalot. He directed and choreographed the recent Broadway production of Elf: The Musical, as well as the Encores! productions of Follies and Anyone Can Whistle and choreographed the Encores! production of Bye Bye Birdie, the New York Philharmonic staging of Candide and the Carnegie Hall presentation of South Pacific.
Menken's Academy Award-winning compositions include "Under the Sea" from Disney's "The Little Mermaid," "A Whole New World" from "Aladdin," the title song from "Beauty and the Beast" and "Colors of the Wind" from "Pocahontas." His screen musicals also include "Newsies," "Hercules," "Enchanted" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," which was later adapted for the stage. His new musical Sister Act is currently on Broadway, while Leap of Faith is aiming for a fall Broadway bow. His stage musicals also include Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Little Shop of Horrors, Weird Romance, A Christmas Carol and the oratorio King David.
For tickets visit 5thAvenue.
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