Tuesday, 10 May 2011

To Make a Prince

Ok, here's the first of two "catch up" posts I'll be doing this week.  Credit goes to Aladdin Central for the find.

Back towards the end of March Jim Hill Media conducted an interview with Chad Beguelin, the writer of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical.  The full interview can be found here.

There are lots of great little facts in the article (like the fact that Chad decided he wanted to be a writer after seeing the original Off-Broadway production of Ashman and Menken's Little Shop of Horrors) and it's well worth a read.

It's interesting to note that Disney Theatrical first approached Chad to do a direct adaptation of the animated classic, and that it was Alan Menken who then suggested that they go back and incorporate some of the cut Howard Ashman songs.  I'm really glad that he did because some of those "lost" songs are truely amazing and it will be wonderful to see Howard's legacy continue to grow on stage.  The 2004 Aladdin DVD features some of them, but I'd highly recommend trying to track down the 4 disc CD set of The Music Behind the Magic which features a fantastic selection of work tapes, demos and unreleased masters for all three of Ashman and Menken's Disney classics.  The fourth disc in particular offers a wonderful glimpse of what might be on stage in Seattle come July.

As the casting notices confirmed, the previously cut characters of Aladdin's three friends (Babkak, Omar and Kassim) have been worked back into the story, whilst the Genie will be more like the Fats Waller/Cab Calloway type character originally envisioned instead of trying to get someone to impersonate Robin Williams.  Overall this will serve to restore the Hope and Crosby "Road" movie feel that Howard Ashman origianlly wanted for the animated classic.

One character who isn't making a return is Abby.  Never heard of her?  Don't worry, I'd be surprised if anyone outside of those involved with the film had heard of her before this interview.  In the original version, the princess was to be a spoilt brat (as the cut song "Call Me a Princess" shows).  This much was revealed in the book that came with The Music Behind the Magic CD set, but according to this interview, in the original story Aladdin, is true love was to be Abby, another diamond in the rough from the market place!!  Well as you can imagine, that element isn't returning, and Aladdin and Jasmine's romance will be as true as it was in the film.

There's loads more including a spoiler (if you can call it that when the film is getting on for 20 years old) regarding the end of the first act, so do yourself a favor and check it out at the link above!

Rehearsals are due to start this month according to the interview, so hopefully we'll hear a full cast announcement sooner rather than later, and I'll be back in a day or two with the second big bit of news I missed whilst I was gone.

Edit: My sincere apologies for initially calling Chad Beguelin the director of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical, he is of course the writer.  I've corrected it now!

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