Saturday, 22 February 2014

Countdown to Broadway - Manila 2012

Tom Rodriguez and K-La Rivera as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Atlantis Productions

Earlier this week I looked back at the European Premiere of Aladdin, now it's the turn of Atlantis Productions' Asian Premiere, the final production (not counting Denmark's encore run) before Disney announced that the show would be making its way to Broadway.  The countdown to Broadway is almost done!

On 24th February 2012 it was announced that Atlantis Productions had been chosen by Disney to stage the Asian Premiere of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical.  The show would run from 16th November through 9th December 2012, transporting audiences of the Philippines' Meralco Theatre on a magical Arabian adventure.

Tom Rodriguez and K-La Rivera as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Atlantis Productions
April saw the first casting announcement and the release of the show's poster (seen at the start of this post).  Tom Rodriguez was confirmed to be making his stage debut as Aladdin with K-La Rivera, who had starred in Atlantis' production of Into the Heights the previous year, as Princess Jasmine.

The full cast was later revealed to be;

Tom Rodriguez as Aladdin
K-La Rivera as Princess Jasmine
Aiza Seguerra and Calvin Millado (alternating) as Genie
Raul Montesa as Jafar
Jimmy Marquez as Iago
Bibo Reyes as Babkak
Johann dela Fuente as Omar
Jamie Wilson as Kassim
Jun Ofrasio as Sultan

The show was directed by Bobby Garcia and Chari Arespacochaga with choreography by Ceicle Martinez, sets by Lex Marcos and Lawyn Cruz, lighting by Jay Aranda, costumes by Twinkle Zamora and musical direction by Ceejay Javier.  Johann dela Fuente, as well as playing Omar, also provided hair and makeup design.  The article linked to above, by The Philippine Star, is well worth reading as the cast comment on playing their iconic roles.

Left to Right; Aiza Seguerra as Genie, Tom Rodriguez as Aladdin, K-La Rivera as Jasmine and Calvin Millado as Genie, Photo by Atlantis Productions

I haven't been able to find many reviews for Atlantis Productions' Aladdin, but the one I did find, by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, pretty much mirrors exactly how I felt when watching the Tuachan's production.  As Pam Pastor says, "we felt like kids again while watching the show.  We were smiling practically the entire time (our mouths actually started to hurt), we laughed gleefully. we clapped our hands.  And yes, we'll admit it, we kind of booed Jafar, too ... "Disney's Aladdin" was a fresh take on a beloved tale, a colorful musical spectacle that offers fun and laughs for both children and adults."  One thing that the review doesn't mention is that the sets for this production were actually made out or recycled materials (bottles, cans, etc.).  It's an incredibly interesting approach and one I wish I could have seen as it looks beautifully done in the few photos I have seen.


Tom Rodriguez and K-La Rivera as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Atlantis Productions

So, like all productions of Aladdin to this point, it went short and sweet.  When the Pilot Production took its final bow on 31st July 2011 all we knew about Aladdin's future was that Disney's original intention for the show was to license it out to professional and amateur groups, by the end of 2012 we'd had two amazing regional productions along with incredible premiere productions in both Europe and Asia.  Aladdin had travelled the world where, like with 5th Avenue's Pilot Production, it had been embraced by its audiences.  But the most exciting news about the show was still just a rumour, just a simple comment by Alan Menken at a D23 event... Broadway was coming!

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