Aladdin Ready to Ride onto Broadway (meet the cast)
By Brian Scott Lipton
Get ready to jump on that magic carpet and experience a whole new world of romance and adventure when Disney’s latest musical, “Aladdin,” moves into Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre on February 26 (in advance of an official March 20 opening) under the direction of Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw.
The show is based on the beloved Oscar-winning Disney animated film of the same name. As Disney Theatrical Group president Thomas Schumacher revealed at a recent press event, composer Alan Menken and Howard Ashman first came to Disney over 20 years ago with an elaborate version of “Aladdin,” and while not all of their songs and ideas made it into the finished film, many of them have been reinstated for this stage version (which features a new book and additional lyrics by Tony nominee Chad Beguelin).
The title role will be embodied by the handsome Adam Jacobs (who previously played Simba in Disney’s “The Lion King”), who says that Aladdin has always been his favorite Disney character. He’s particularly excited to be able to sing “Proud of Your Boy,” a song that was cut from the film, which Aladdin sings to his dead mother. “It’s where I promise to be a better man. It’s a very emotional moment,” he notes.
His love interest, Jasmine, will be played by the beautiful Courtney Reed. “I used to watch all the animated Disney films growing up,” she says. “But ‘Aladdin’ was the most special because Jasmine was the first Disney heroine I saw who looked like me.”
The talented James Monroe Igleheart, who was last seen on Broadway in “Memphis,” will play the Genie. Unlike Robin Williams, who voiced the character in the film, Igleheart will sound more like the great Harlem entertainer Cab Calloway (which was Menken and Ashman’s original idea). “The Genie is there to be an entertainer,” says Igleheart.
And in a true casting coup, Tony nominee Jonathan Freeman will “re-create” his film role as the deep-voiced, evil Jafar. “I was just blessed to be asked to the table and work with all these wonderful people, who are bringing new energy to the property,” he says. “I couldn’t be happier.”
Photos/Video: Magda Katz