The Disney Broadway production of Aladdin took a long and bumpy road from the animated film to the stage. It required a lot of hard work and a dedicated team to create the successful musical. Disney Aladdin: A Whole New World – The Road to Broadway and Beyond chronicles this journey as told by those involved.
The journey of Aladdin starts with Disney looking to fill a void. Many local adult theaters wanted a version of Aladdin to license for productions. Disney only had a 1 hour kid’s version available. So in 2009 work began on this project. Through various re-writes, readings, and a growing talent pool involved the decision was made to mount a production in Seattle in the summer of 2011 to try it out. After successfully licensing this version of the production the demand for the show was proven and eventually a green light was given to continue toward a Broadway version. In November of 2013 an out-of-town tryout began in Toronto for the production. The show finally opened in March of 2014 at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York to rave reviews and sold out houses.
This book presents a comprehensive history of the events and milestones of the production. It examines all aspects of the production including the design elements (scenic, costume, lighting, sound, etc) as well as the adaptation of the music and lyrics for the various steps along the way. Each element is discussed in a piece told through the people involved featuring the recollections and stories of those involved. Also discussed are changes from the animated feature as well as the various versions of the musical are discussed throughout. The final chapter looks at the success of the play and how it evolved after premiering including touring productions, translation and casting.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a relatively quick read for a 200 page book with a large number of great photographs and concept art spreads, some of which are multi-page fold out panels. There are a fair number of full page images too. The narrative features the point of view of the various members of the creative team as well as direct quotes/question and answer pieces. The story gives some insight into what it takes to create a production of this scale. Seeing the show is not a requirement to find the book interesting, I have not seen the show, but still found it really interesting and a good read. I found myself wanting a little more detail in some areas, for example they hinted at technical aspects and scale of the show but do not really dive deep into. I would have liked to have seen a little more of that side of things explored.