text by Hazirah
Photos by Sabrina
Vibrant, mystical, spirited. These are the words that came to mind the moment we stepped into the theatre during the premiere of Aladdin The Musical. Aladdin was originally inspired by an old folk tale from “The Book Of One Thousand and One Nights (The Arabian Nights) making its way from a Disney animated movie that was released in 1992 to a live action remake in 2019. Ergo what makes the musical different from its counterpart? For starters, this massive production boasts a cast of 34 and a staggering 337 glittering costumes, which feature 1225 different fabrics, 712 different styles of beads and almost 500,00 Swarovski crystals. 40 Tonnes (Note: 1 tonne = 1000KG) of exotic flying scenery and 60 tonnes of automation and staging has been transferred to Singapore in more than 30, 40′ sea containers to recreate the fantasy city of Agrabah.
Before we had the chance to witness the actual musical, we were given backstage access to what makes Aladdin the Musical so spectacular. We were treated to 3 stage number performances from the musical as a sneak peek. Namely the Arabian Nights, A Friend like Me, and a new duet between Aladdin and Princess Jasmine called A Million Miles Away. The opening sequence, Arabian Nights, was reminiscent of a travelling brochure, setting the background as the fictional city of Agrabah for the viewer in all its vibrant colours and textures. The highlight was when the actors and creatives sat down for a Q&A and showed genuine passion and reverence to their artistry.
When asked if there was a certain pressure in having to play a role that is beloved by so many, Shubshri Kandiah, who plays Princess Jasmine in the musical, replied, “I think we all loved the film growing up and there’s an element of wanting to stay true to the character, but we all have our own interpretations and we just have so much fun up here every night doing [each] role and sharing that. It doesn’t feel stressful, it’s just so much fun”. Gareth Jacobs, who plays Genie, adds, “I think everyone knows and loves the grandness that was Robbie Williams as Genie (in the 1992 animation feature) so it was a massively daunting experience. The thing that I took away was that the more that I watched the movie, the more I saw how much fun he [Williams] had and how there was no rules to what I could do out there. Every night, I try to make things slightly different so it keeps it fresh and new for everyone who comes and sees the show”.
Although the sneak previews of the performances were already mesmerising, we were unaware of what was to come. In true Disney magic, during the sequence of “A Whole New World”, Aladdin and Princess Jasmine hopped onto a magic carpet (with no visible wires) and like magic, were floating around the stage, captivating the entire audience. There were murmured whispers of “How do they do that?” all while Aladdin and Princess Jasmine soared through an endless diamond sky. It was truly a sight to behold.
Whether you grew up watching Disney classics or you’re a fan of musicals, Aladdin the musical is a treat for your senses. From the lavish sets to the stunning costumes, they have spared no expense in making the world of Aladdin come to life. The best part? The Disney magic of course.This English-language production will play its first and only Asian stop at Sands Theatre, Singapore. Tickets will be available via Marina Bay Sands ticketing and SISTIC.