On Thursday, December 10, Disney Parks Blog Readers had an opportunity to see Disney's Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular at the Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure. For some, this was their final chance to see the show before Genie goes off to see the world.
At check-in, we were given our wristband, park hopper ticket, and a commemorative photo depicting the magic carpet scene from the show. Check in was a breeze, and from there, we waited until we were escorted into the Park for the show.
Once in the Park, we waited for the show and were given an opportunity to write down some questions for the Q&A that would follow. Once inside the theater, it was only minutes before the show began. During the performance, Genie made a reference to the Meet Up. It was after the flying carpet scene and he said, "Sorry. I'm checking my email. 'You are invited to the Disney Parks Blog Aladdin Meet Up.' Decline." The audience said 'aww.' Genie continued and said, "I'm working!"
After the show, we got a little glimpse into the backstage area of the Hyperion Theater as the crew was setting up for the panel. It was nice to see some props and costumes, as well as the 'Cave of Wonders' and the 'Friend Like Me' staircase.
While waiting for the panel to begin, Erin Glover from the Disney Parks Blog gave us some interesting facts about the show.
- There have been over 14,000 performances in the past 13 years.
- Eight Cast Members in 'Aladdin' have been a part of the show for the entire run.
- Three were in the show that night.
- It takes 32 On-Stage Cast Members and 36 Behind the Scenes Cast Members to put on the show.
At first, I thought it would be a panel of the creative team, but it was a pleasant surprise to have three performers as well: Jim, who portrays Genie, Billy, who portrays Aladdin, and Cassie, who portrays Jasmine. Also in the panel were Shelby, a creative executive with Walt Disney Imagineering who helped oversee the creation of the show, and David, a stage manager.
Jim has been a part of the show for over eight years. Cassie has been a part of the show for 10 years and Billy is the newbie, having only been with the show for since January 2015.
When Shelby was asked about the show, she said that they "always wanted to keep the show as entertaining as possible." As far as creating the show, she also said that the original show was supposed to be 25 minutes, but slowly grew to 30, 35, 40, and then finally 45 minutes.
One of the questions many have always had is in regards to Abu and Raja. That was finally addressed and they were eliminated to put the emphasis on other characters. Of course, other changes were made from the film to the stage show. For example, many scenes involving Jasmine were cut, but one big scene was added and that was Jasmine's "To Be Free" solo in the show. Cassie performed it well that night and it has to be the best I have ever heard in the 13 years I've seen the show.
Speaking of "To Be Free," the underscore to that song is featured in the animated film. You can hear it when Jasmine is in the garden with Raja wondering what it would be like to be free. Shelby also mentioned that working with Alan Menken to have the song added to the show was easy. His personality was great.
One other thing that is big in the show is the flying carpet. That was actually a late addition to the show. The creative team saw the Fisher Flying Rig being used in Las Vegas and they knew they had to have it. Can you imagine the show without the flying carpet?
Shelby also mentioned how the musical has been beautifully maintained for its entire run. She also credited the audience for the longevity of the show. (Who remembers in late 2009 when it was announced that the Toy Story Musical was going to replace Aladdin in early 2011? We all know that it was the audience that helped keep Aladdin for 6 more years!)
When asked where the Genie gets his jokes, Jim said there are certain jokes that work for some who portray Genie, while others don't. He also said that he gets his inspiration for some of the Genie's jokes by listening to morning radio! (That made me happy as I work in radio.)
When asked about what they will miss most as the show closes, both Billy and Cassie said they will miss the talented people they work with.
I think what I will miss about Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular is how fresh the show was kept throughout its entire run. I noticed minor changes here and there, but that's what made the show exciting.
In closing, I want to thank the Cast and Crew of Disney's Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular for providing us with countless laughs, tears, and memories over the past 13 years. Thank you for sharing your talents with us. Words cannot express our sincere gratitude.