Attend this Disney musical on Aladin that promises to enthrall its audiences

Apr 15, 2018, 09:00 IST | Benita Fernando

It's a whole new world for the second Disney musical in India, which promises to retain the flavour of the old animation film

The cast for Disney's Aladdin: (From left) Roshan Abbas, Kira Narayanan, Taaruk Raina, director Shruti Sharma, Siddharth Menon and Mantra. Pic/Atul Kamble
The cast for Disney's Aladdin: (From left) Roshan Abbas, Kira Narayanan, Taaruk Raina, director Shruti Sharma, Siddharth Menon and Mantra. Pic/Atul Kamble

In its second Broadway-style outing in India, Walt Disney has chosen a production that many a 90s Indian kid would have held dear to his/her heart. As one of the original stories from The Arabian Nights, the centuries-old tale was re-imagined by Disney in the memorable animation film, Aladdin. The worldwide success of the 1992 film was revived in the form of Disney's musical, which premiered in Seattle in 2011.

Set to stage in Mumbai this month, the musical has introduced a new cast and crew, some of whom we had the opportunity to meet at the National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) last week. The director is Shruti Sharma, who was associate director for Disney's first musical in India, Beauty and the Beast. In a quiet moment before the bustle of rehearsals begins, Sharma tells us, "Aladdin is a very complex story. I watched the film as a child and now, when I see it again as an adult, I interpret it differently, and see that there are more layers to it."

We couldn't agree more. The "layers" that Sharma alludes to is something that possibly makes Disney tales, of a certain league, such as The Lion King, have a classic, timeless allure. It is a sentiment shared by the lead cast, who are of different ages. Kira Narayanan, who plays Jasmine, saw the film much after it was released, while former RJ Roshan Abbas remembers taking song requests, especially from the Hindi adaptation of the film. "There was a time when I had several callers requesting for Sapno Ka Jahan, the Hindi version of A Whole New World. Sonu Nigam had sung that song wonderfully," says Abbas. The musical, produced by BookMyShow for India, has some hits from the film composed by Alan Menken, with some more thrown in for good measure.

For the cast, some do feel that they have pretty big shoes to fill with this show. Puranjit Dasgupta, who goes by his radio jockey name, Mantra, tells us, "Genie was scripted around Robin Williams, not the other way around. I try not to watch the film too often, for I wonder if I can do justice to the role! Besides, Genie is a very interesting character; Aladdin and he share a bond. What would Aladdin want besides Genie in his life?" "Jasmine," quips Abbas.

The evil Jafar and Aladdin have two sets of actors - Abbas and Vikrant Chaturvedi play the villain, while Siddharth Menon and Taaruk Raina play the hero. The young heroes tell us that the best part about the play is that it's the story of hope - an underdog who finds a life of fullness. And, what would Aladdin be without Princess Jasmine - of single-minded pursuit, and the one who made off-shoulder crop-tops a fashion statement. "She is bad**s. This has been special that way for me. We have a strong director helming it, who happens to a woman, along with Tess Joseph [casting director] and Suzane D'Mello [vocal coach]," Narayanan says.

The cast and the director are tight-lipped about details regarding costumes (there was a whisper that these may not be the same as the designs from the film) and stage production. However, we have been told that despite the differences and logistical challenges between the musical and the film, we can rest assured that there will be a magic lamp, a flying carpet, and sorcery.
So, here are our three wishes from Disney's Aladdin: blow our minds with song, transport us with spectacle, and give us some good ol' romance.

Where: Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
When: April 20 - May 6, 7.30 PM
Entry: Rs 750 - Rs 7,500
Call: 22845350

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