If you’ve noticed an increase in people humming Disney songs around the West End at the moment it’s because auditions are in full swing for the London transfer of the Broadway hit ALADDIN and almost every musical theatre performer you’ll meet has, or is hoping to have, a shot at being in the show.
There have already been a number of productions across the globe, culminating last year in a triumphant Broadway opening which won five Tony Award nominations including for Best Book, Best Original Score and Best Choreography and James Monroe Iglehart won the Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical award for his role as the Genie, famously voiced by Robin Williams in the 1992 animated film on which the stage musical is based.
The show includes three songs that were cut from the movie and four new songs written especially for the new version which follows the familiar tale of how Aladdin, a street urchin, becomes master of a genie in a lamp. This magical friend grants him three wishes to help marry a princess and thwart the Sultan's evil Grand Vizier.
Disney’s biggest hit show to date has been the unstoppable LION KING, still a top selling hit around the world. Following a rather formulaic BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Disney took a big risk and hired the arty director Julie Taymor to create a bold and imaginative staging for the lions, combining daring and beautiful puppetry, Disney fun and African art. Such a radical approach failed when they tried it again with an unlovely and unloved Broadway staging of THE LITTLE MERMAID, so for ALADDIN expect a more traditional use of set and costume which, none the less, has won high praise from audiences and critics.
The original songwriters, composer Alan Menken and the lyricist, the late Howard Ashman (They also wrote LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS) always created numbers in the style of good old fashioned Broadway with plenty of show stoppers including One Jump Ahead, Friend Like Me, Diamond in the Rough and the scene-and-tone-setting Arabian Nights.
The director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw has a great track record too including work on BOOK OF MORMON, SPAMALOT and the Broadway version of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE.
There are gorgeous costumes by Gregg Barnes and spectacular sets, including a breath taking “Cave of Wonders” by acclaimed British designer, Bob Crowley.
If you like your musicals big, bold and spectacular (and who doesn't?) this is definitely the show for you. It’s bound to be a sell out for months so hurry and book your seats right now for its run at the Prince Edward Theatre, replacing Miss Saigon at the same address.