Aladdin and Jasmine on their magic carpet ride. The glittering Cave of Wonders. Robin Williams’ beloved Genie. The iconic evil duo of Jafar and Iago. All classic standouts from the 1992 animated film we’ve grown to know and love over the years. And what with the 2019 live-action remake coming to cinemas in May, plus the Broadway musical making its Singapore debut in July, hype buzzing around Aladdin is pretty much at its peak right now.
That’s probably why some of the cast from Australia’s Disney Theatrical Productions stopped by our city this week to drum up more excitement around the musical. Making its only Asian stop at Marina Bay Sands, the massive production brings in a 34-member cast, 337 costumes (made of 1,225 fabrics, 712 bead styles, and almost 500,000 Swarovski crystals), 44 tons of “flying scenery” and 66 tons of automation and staging. All of that effort just to recreate for audiences here the fantastical city of Agrabah and other familiar scenes of the story.
Landing on our shores a couple years after the musical premiered to the world at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre on Mar 20 in 2014, the Australian production is making Singapore its final stop after almost three years. So this is probably your last chance to watch them bring to life treasured Disney tunes like “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me”, alongside ones exclusive to the stage, such as “Proud of Your Boy” sung by Aladdin.
At a press session on Tuesday, the main cast of Graeme Isaako (Aladdin), Shubshri Kandiah (Jasmine), and Gareth Jacobs (Genie) stepped up to the stage at Marina Bay Sands for a quick preview of the three aforementioned songs.
There was a spark of nostalgia in the air and audible gasps as Aladdin crooned to Jasmine that he could show her the world, in all its shining, shimmering, and splendid glory. The audience tittered as Genie emphatically declared his love for local food: xiao long bao, char siew noodles, laksa, and chilli crab in particular. Jasmine, a little more reserved than the other two, radiated excitement when she talked about taking on the role – her first major one straight out of university.
The trio were chuckling like chummy pals during the panel discussion, which made it fun to watch them even without their elaborate costumes on, so we could imagine how much grander it’d be to see the chemistry between the cast unfold in the production’s full splendor.
But we’ve still got a couple months before Aladdin comes to Singapore. In the meantime, read on to find out more about the cast and their thoughts on the musical.
Gareth on his first memories of the animated Aladdin film.
It was actually the very first movie I went and saw in the theaters. I was nine when the movie came out, so I definitely remember this vividly. This was the first Disney movie that had characters of color, so it was one I looked at and was like, oh that could be me. It was the first time that I was really enveloped by Disney. And being of that age and coming back now, revisiting it all, it’s taken me on this whole new journey down memory lane.
Graeme on his passion for performance.
I’ve always wanted to perform, always. I remember as a child, sitting with my grandmother at the piano, listening to her trying to share her wisdom with me. I’ll never forget those memories… I just always had a passion to sing, whether it’s in front of 200 people or my mom… I truly consider it a blessing to just get paid to do what you love.
Shubshri on her favorite aspect of Jasmine.
Jasmine was the first Disney princess of color and it’s such an honor to be representing that on stage. I love that Jasmine is feisty, she’s independent, she’s a strong woman, and I learn so much from her stepping into her shoes every night.
Gareth on what it’s like to create his own version of Genie.
So easy, said no one ever! No, it’s been wonderful because this is one of those characters that is an actor’s dream role. It’s one that you can put your own personality and your own spin on. There’s a blueprint of what needs to be done and said, but then they go, have fun, do the rest!
Graeme and Shubshri on that romantic magic carpet ride.
SK: It’s so beautiful every night to hear, when the carpet comes out, a gasp from the audience. It’s really magical. And you work off that, you feed off that – it’s a really nice energy.
GI: It’s that feeling, that excitement and butterflies. Many people that’ve watched the film back in 1992 and over the last 20 years are feeling those emotions again, and for us to share that every night, it’s important for us to keep afresh and to stay connected.
Graeme and Shubshri on their favorite songs from the musical.
SK: “A Million Miles Away” is a song after Graeme and I meet in the marketplace. We’re on his rooftop, and it’s just a really intimate scene between the two of us. Nobody else is on stage, we’re singing about hopes and dreams, and I just love it. I think there’s a moment there every night that my heart goes: I’m living my dream on stage. And that’s close to my heart.
GI: Almost all of the songs are very relatable, especially “Proud of Your Boy” that I sing. Whether you’ve lost parents or if you’re changing careers or if you’ve got a different journey and you really wanna aspire to something – we can all really relate.
Aladdin is on from Jul 21-Aug 11, Tues-Fri 7:30pm, Sat 2pm & 7:30pm, Sun 1pm & 6:30pm at Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands.
This article, A Whole New World: The cast of ‘Aladdin’ the musical comes to Singapore for a sneak peek, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!