Aladdin is set to bring his significant other, Jasmine, to their first and only Asian stop at the Sands Theater in Singapore on July 21. The journey will mark the fifth year since Broadway musical sensation Aladdin made its world premiere in March 2014.
While the show is currently playing at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York, it has also toured elsewhere in the US as well as London; Stuttgart, Germany; Tokyo; and Adelaide, Australia. It is said that since its opening, Aladdin has played in front of a full house every night.
The Jakarta Post is among the media that was invited to attend an early unveiling event of the Singapore run of Aladdin, which was produced by Australia’s Disney Theatrical Productions.
Paula McKinnon, associate producer at Disney Theatrical Australia, said in the media call at the Sands Theater, Marina Bay Sands, that it was the first time the company brought a production directly from Australia to Singapore.
“Singapore will be the only Asian city that our production will play, and after almost three years, it will be the final city of our tour. This will be everyone’s last opportunity to see this production in this region,” said McKinnon.
She went on to say that in Australia and New Zealand, Aladdin had already been seen by 1.4 million people, and it had all the iconic songs from the film, as well as new songs written for the stage that allowed the theatrical production to expand and enrich the story.
Having just finished its New Zealand run and ahead of its stop in Adelaide, the Singapore media event saw the attendance of Graeme Isaako, who plays Aladdin, Shubshri Kandiah, who plays Jasmine, and Gareth Jacobs, who plays Genie.
The media call took place on the very stage where the musical will be performed, and there was a smaller stage arranged for the principal cast to perform three songs. A few mannequins clad in the musical’s costumes were set at the sides of the stage.
Isaako, who was born in Sydney and grew up in Auckland, opened the day’s performance with Proud of Your Boy, a song written by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman. The song is not in the 1992 animated feature.
“[The song] was […] originally written for the film, but unfortunately got cut. When the team came together to create the stage show, that was one of the first things they wanted to do, to reintroduce the beautiful song,” said McKinnon.
Isaako, looking well-rested, belted the song flawlessly, depicting a young man’s reassurance to his mother that he will be a good man, despite how bad he’d been and how he’d wasted time.
“Almost all of the songs are very relatable, especially the Proud of Your Boy that I sang, whether you’ve lost your parents, or if you’re changing careers, or going on a different journey, […], you can really relate to Aladdin in this journey […],” said Isaako.
He was later joined by Kandiah to sing A Whole New World, the iconic song of the animated feature that won the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 65th Academy Awards in 1993.
Trained in musical theatre at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, Kandiah graduated in 2017. She performed in many musicals, from Sweet Charity to West Side Story, and held roles with Opera Queensland while training.
The recent graduate said she never thought landing the role of Jasmine with a dream cast and company would happen.
“Jasmine was the first Disney princess of colour and it is such an honour to be representing that on stage,” said Kandiah.
Performing a duet with the much more experienced Isaako, Kandiah showed no lack of confidence, hitting the high notes with ease. She is embracing her youthfulness, portraying the Arabian princess who is eager to see the world on a magic carpet ride with the love of her life.
The show, however, is not truly magical without the appearance of Genie, who introduced himself at the media call with a lively performance of A Friend Like Me.
Jacobs, a 2003 graduate from the University of Ballarat in Victoria, took over the role of Genie during the Melbourne run of Aladdin. Several publications reviewed his performance with great acclaim, with The West Australian describing him as “the life-force of the show, the compere, the shining star”.
Playing such a principal role as Genie, Jacobs is no stranger to the question of what it is like to create his own version of the role, as it is often compared to the late Robin Williams’ interpretation of the character in the animated feature.
“So easy, said no one ever,” Jacobs teased, adding that there was a blueprint on what was needed, but he put his own spin on the character.
“[…] That is just so exciting to do every night. There are people who have come back and say, ‘Oh, that is not the same’, and I say, ‘No, I don’t do the same thing every night, I purposefully try to make it different so that when people come back […] they see something new every night’,” said Jacobs.
While the live action remake of Disney’s 1992 Aladdin is to hit the cinemas in late May, Aladdin the hit Broadway musical in Singapore offers the experience of “A Whole New World” in a sparkling manner starting July 21.
Matthew Henderson, the production company manager of Aladdin at Disney Theatrical Productions, revealed that there will be over 337 glittery costumes, 712 different types of beads and half a million Swarovski crystals on stage at every performance.
“[In the performance “A Friend Like Me”], there is a tap section […] and those pants [worn by performers] alone have over 1,200 Swarovski crystals […],” said Henderson.
He went on to say that everything we know from the film would be on stage; however, certain moments, including the magic carpet ride, would be amplified to give the audience the best experience.
The fantasy city of Agrabah, as well as the Sultan’s lush palace and legendary Cave of Wonders, will soon come to life with 40 tons of exotic flying scenery and 60 tons of automation and staging equipment.