Watching a rehearsal of Disney's Aladdin was almost like walking into the fabled city of Agrabah — the intricate backdrop with cut-outs of domes and the Genie's magic lamp, the lights, voices singing songs like 'Arabian Nights' and 'Prince Ali', and the perfectly coordinated dance routines all brought back memories of watching the animated film as a child.
This musical actually brings the viewer one step closer to experiencing the magic of the story, because of its grand scale. It is a Broadway-style production which puts to use a variety of musical influences from Middle Eastern instrumentation to Swing numbers, and features routines which have classic Broadway moves and more modern styles, like hiphop. Optical illusions and stunts have also been added to the mix.
Directed by Shruti Sharma, it stars Siddharth Menon, Taaruk Raina, Kira Narayanan, Mantra, Roshan Abbas and Vikrant Chaturvedi in the principal roles. They are part of a 50-member strong cast, who are assisted by a 100 crew members and have been rehearsing together since the beginning of 2018.
In a series of conversations with Firstpost, the cast and crew spoke about various aspects of musical and what why the story of Aladdin has aged so well.
It is a reimagination of the original musical by Disney Theatrical Productions, which featured music by eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken, and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, who are also Academy Award winners. For this Indian production, music director Dhruv Ghanekar has recreated the music using big band orchestra pieces. "This will give the audience the feeling that the music is being played live," he says.
Apart from a mash-up of Jazz and Swing music, it also has orchestral film score influences and hat-tips to classic Disney scores. A wide range of music is part of this production, from romantic ballads to a tango number. "At its core, it is a celebration of the American Broadway-style musical that audiences love world over," Ghanekar adds.
He says that the songs will tell the viewers about the journeys of individual characters, as well as their aspirations. Though he cannot pick one favourite song (the musical has over 75 minutes of music), he says that 'One Jump Ahead', 'A Million Miles Away', 'These Palace Walls', 'Friend Like Me' and 'High Adventure' are special.
Costumes are an integral part of the storytelling. The process involved choosing the right kind of fabric, sourcing it, playing with the best colour palettes and using the most suitable accessories. "We have tried to stay true to the personalities of each character, and yet, have added contemporary elements to classic silhouettes and given a twist of glamour to the costumes to make them look more magical," says Gaviin Miguel, who has designed the costumes.
He says that creating the costumes for the royalty and Agrabah's citizens — Jafar, among others — took a great deal of time and precision. To ensure that the costumes would turn out in exactly the same way as they were envisioned at the beginning, eight different teams worked together. "I am particularly looking forward to the audience’s reaction to Genie’s costume, which is unique," says Miguel.
The choreography has been woven into the story itself. The choreographers, Bertwin and Shampa, say that they have incorporated a variety of dance forms, including Arabian folk styles, belly dancing, jazz, contemporary, ballroom and African styles. "There are quite a few iconic moves that people will take home with them, especially when it comes to Genie and Aladdin. For instance, in the song ‘Friend like Me’ which introduces the powerful, fun and vibrant Genie in the story, we have tried to bring out his characteristics through the choreography."
Disney's Aladdin will be staged at the NCPA's Jamshed Bhabha Theatre from 20 April. It is produced by BookMyShow
Updated Date: Apr 23, 2018 13:07:44 IST