Fresh off of the Broadway success of “Newsies,” Disney Theatrical Productions has announced its latest project: “Aladdin.” The hit 1992 film is the next Disney movie to be converted for the Great White Way. AP News has the scoop.
Thomas Schumacher, president of Disney Theatrical Productions, said that he wanted the company’s next musical to be a big, lavish production. “Aladdin” is the perfect story for that. The musical will copy some of the success of “Newsies,” in that composer Alan Menken is coming back to the story to add some new songs. New characters and even some magic tricks will also be added to the story to bolster it to a length appropriate for Broadway.
The second I heard about Menken’s return to the musical, my mind went to one place: “Proud of Your Boy.” According to a documentary on the special edition “Aladdin” DVD, “Proud of Your Boy” was a song written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken for the original film. Aladdin’s mother was in an early version of the script, and the song was of Aladdin wishing he could be a better son for his mother.
Time cuts in the film necessitated removing Aladdin’s mother, and so the song also had to be pulled out, as it didn’t make as much sense without her. According to the documentary, removing the song was a very hard decision: Ashman had passed away between writing the song and the decision to cut it, and removing it from the movie was like removing one last piece of him. It would be fantastic if they could honor Ashman by putting the song back into the story. Aladdin’s mother could also be one of the additional characters mentioned earlier.
I wonder how many new songs Menken will have to write for the show. There were originally 14 songs written for “Aladdin,” but perhaps some of them were discarded because they weren’t very good. All I know is that bringing Menken back sounds like a great idea.
You might have one question about the “Aladdin” Broadway production: how are they going to do the Genie? Schumacher’s already got the answer. They’re not going to try to make him look exactly like he does in the film, in that he’s a big blue shape-shifting figure. Instead, he’s going to be a vaudeville-style character.
I think the change is a fantastic idea. So much of Genie’s design, particularly the shape shifting, was animated to suit Robin Williams’ voice work. That can’t be replicated, so it’s better not to try. Remodeling him as a fast-talking vaudevillian is still in keeping with the hyperactive spirit of the character.
“Aladdin” has been running on and off as a show at the Disney parks for years, but I’m sure the Broadway version will be unique. “Aladdin” debuts in 2014 at the New Amsterdam Theatre.
*(The above image by ross_hawkes is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)