From Fable to Stage to Film - A Magic Carpet Ride Through the History of ALADDIN
With news coming out of this summer's D23 Expo that Disney's highly-anticipated live-action reboot of Aladdin will star Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine and Will Smith as Genie, BroadwayWorld decided to take a look back at the journey of this classic tale, from fable to hit animated film to Tony-winning Broadway musical to live-action movie. So come along with us on a magic carpet ride and re-visit the various incarnations of the shining, shimmering, splendid world of Aladdin!
A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH - The Original Fable
Most people are familiar with Disney's 1992 animated film Aladdin, but they may not know that the story was based on the Arab-style folktale "Aladdin and the Magic Lamp" from "One Thousand and One Nights". Although it was not part of the original Arabic text, the tale was added in the 18th century by Frenchman Antoine Galland. According to reports, Galland heard the story of an impoverished young ne'er-do-well from a Syrian storyteller from Aleppo. Galland's diary also reveals that his translation of the tale was made in the winter of 1709-10 and was included in his volumes IX and X of "One thousand and One Nights", published in 1710.
Galland's telling of the tale differs somewhat from the story we've come to know and love. In his rendition, Aladdin is recruited by a sorcerer from the Maghreb, who passes himself off as the brother of Aladdin's late father, Mustapha the tailor, convincing Aladdin and his mother of his good will by pretending to set up the lad as a wealthy merchant. The sorcerer's real motive is to persuade young Aladdin to retrieve a wonderful oil lamp from a booby-trapped magic cave. After the sorcerer attempts to double-cross him, Aladdin finds himself trapped in the cave. Fortunately, Aladdin is still wearing a magic ring the sorcerer has lent him. When he rubs his hands in despair, he inadvertently rubs the ring and a "genie" appears who releases him from the cave so that he can return to his mother, fortunately still carrying the lamp. When his mother tries to clean the lamp, so they can sell it to buy food for their supper, a second far more powerful genie appears who is bound to do the bidding of the person holding the lamp.
With the aid of the genie of the lamp, Aladdin becomes rich and powerful and marries Princess Badroulbadour, the sultan's daughter (after magically foiling her marriage to the vizier's son). The genie builds Aladdin and his bride a wonderful palace, far more magnificent than the sultan's. After several ensuing run-ins with the sorcerer and his evil brother, Aladdin prevails, eventually succeeds to his father-in-law's throne, and [spoiler alert- not!] everyone lives happily ever after.
The tale has had several adaptations including books, pantomimes,and animated and live-action films. The story has also appeared on television and has been the inspiration behind many iconic TV episodes. In addition, Aladdin has surfaced in the comics, in video games and on the stage.
Image courtesy of Amazon
A WHOLE NEW WORLD- Disney's 1992 Animated Film
Perhaps the most well-known version of the iconic tale is the 1992 animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation for Walt Disney Pictures. The film is the 31st Disney animated feature film, and was the fourth produced during the Disney film era known as the Disney Renaissance. Directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, the voice cast features Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Frank Welker, Gilbert Gottfried and Douglas Seale and the singing talents of Lea Salonga and Brad Kane. The film follows Aladdin, a street urchin, who finds a magic lamp containing a genie. In order to hide the lamp from the Grand vizier Jafar, he disguises himself as a rich prince, and tries to impress the Sultan and his daughter, Jasmine. Eventually, Aladdin defeats Jafar, wins the hand of the Princess, grants freedom to Genie and, like the tale on which it is based, lives happily ever after.
Lyricist Howard Ashman first pitched the idea, and the screenplay went through three drafts before then-Disney Studios president Jeffrey Katzenberg agreed to its production. The animators based their designs on the work of caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, and computers were used for both finishing the artwork and creating some animated elements. The musical score was written by Alan Menken and features six songs with lyrics written by both Ashman and Tim Rice, who took over after Ashman's death.
The film was released on November 25, 1992 and became the most successful film of 1992, earning over $217 million in revenue in the United States, and over $504 million worldwide. The film won many awards, mostly for its soundtrack. Aladdin's success led to other material inspired by the film, including two direct-to-video sequels, The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves, an animated television series of the same name, toys, video games, spin-offs, and a prequel about the genie titled Genies.
Watch the official trailer for the film below:
The talented duo recently reunited for the very first time to perform the ballad on ABC's GOOD MORNING AMERICA
Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios
BROADWAY MAKES WAY FOR PRINCE ALI - Aladdin THE MUSICAL
In 2011, Disney premiered the stage musical Aladdin, based on the 1992 film at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. After several regional and international productions in 2012, the musical was given a Toronto tryout in 2013 and opened on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre on March 20, 2014, to warm reviews. It was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score and Best Choreography. James Monroe Iglehart put his own unique spin on the role of Genie, picking up the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role.
The original Broadway cast also featured Jonathan Freeman, reprising his film role as villain Jafar, Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine. Clifton Davis played the Sultan while Don Darryl Rivera portrayed Iago. Playing Omar, Kassim and Babkak, a trio of characters originally conceived by the film's creators but not used, were Jonathan Schwartz, Brian Gonzales and Brandon O'Neill, respectively.
The show features music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin. Beguelin also wrote the book. The musical includes three songs written for the film by Ashman but not used there and four new songs written by Menken and Beguelin. The story follows the familiar tale of how a poor young man discovers a genie in a lamp and uses his wishes to marry the princess that he loves and to thwart the Sultan's evil Grand Vizier. Set in the fictional Arabian city of Agrabah, the characters are Middle Eastern.
Last December, Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) and Tony Award-winner James Monroe Iglehart (Genie), performed the show-stopping number "Friend Like Me" live from the stage of the New Amsterdam Theatre on this morning's "Good Morning America."
Finally, watch the cast perform on the 2014 TONY AWARDS:
Photo: Photos by Cylla von Tiedemann
ONE JUMP AHEAD - Live-action Aladdin coming to a theater near you
The House of Mouse recently announced that Director Guy Ritchie will helm a live-action re-imagining of Disney's Aladdin. The starring roles have gone to Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine. Will Smith will voice the iconic role of Genie. In addition, Marwan Kenzari, star of the upcoming MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, will take on the role of the villainous Jafar, while 'SNL' alum Nasim Pedrad joins the cast as 'Mara', the handmaiden and friend to Jasmine. The role was created specifically for the new movie. A release date has not yet been announced.
The musical score will feature songs by Alan Menken with lyrics written by both Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, who took over after Ashman's death. At this year's D23 Expo, Menken revealed that DEAR EVAN HANSEN's Benj Pasek and Justin Paul will pen the lyrics for all-new songs which will be featured in the film.
Alan Menken performed a medley of Aladdin songs to an enthusiastic audience of Disney fans at the 2017 D23 Expo. Below, check out his performance of "A Whole New World", "Proud to Be Your Boy" and "Friend Like Me."
Photo credit: Walter McBride