Alan Menken Talks ALADDIN: 'Original Idea Was Hope & Crosby Road Comedy'
Speaking by phone, Menken shared that the show brought him back to his earlier collaborations with the late lyricist Howard Ashman. "Going back, the first chapter really started when Howard met with Jeffrey Katzenberg at Disney," he says. "They discussed a number of projects, one of which was The Thief of Baghdad.
He continues, "They discussed a number of projects, one of which was The Thief of Baghdad. It was already planted in his head. Right after Mermaid came Aladdin. Our original approach contained songs we were finally able to do in the stage version."
The Award winning compser reveals, "The original idea was to do a Hope-and Crosby road comedy crossed with a Fleischer cartoon [i.e. Betty Boop, Popeye] and given an original edge. A lot of edge remained in the movie, but the sidekicks were lost, the mom was eliminated, I'm Proud Of Your Boy went out the window, I thought it was gone. But then Tom said `We want to bring Aladdin to Broadway. The script was expansion of the movie. I wanted to get more of Howard's original Arabian Nights- in the movie it's a one-minute song, this version has all the original lyrics."
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Disney's Aladdin, the new musical comedy based on the Academy Award®-winning animated film, opened to critical acclaim on March 20th, 2014 at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre.
Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, Aladdin features music by Tony Award® and eight-time Oscar® winnerAlan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Sister Act), lyrics by two-time Oscar winner Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), three-time Tony Award and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice (Evita, Aida) and two-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin(The Wedding Singer), with a book by Beguelin, and is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon). This new production features a full score, including the Oscar and Grammy® winning hit "A Whole New World," and four other cherished songs from the film and multi Grammy-winning original motion picture soundtrack.
Aladdin stars Adam Jacobs (Les Miserables, The Lion King) in the title role, Courtney Reed (In the Heights, Mamma Mia) as Jasmine, James Monroe Iglehart (Memphis, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) as Genie, and, as Jafar, Tony Award nominee Jonathan Freeman (Mary Poppins, The Producers, She Loves Me) brings to the stage the role he indelibly created in the animated film. The show also stars Brian Gonzales, Brandon O'Neill and Jonathan Schwartz as Aladdin's sidekicks Babkak, Kassim and Omar, Clifton Davis as Sultan and Don Darryl Rivera as Iago.