By Alessandra Micieli
Theatregoers are taking a magic carpet ride, as Disney’s Aladdin premiered in Toronto last Friday for a nine-week, pre-Broadway engagement.
The cast from the live-action adaptation of the 1992 animated Disney classic includes Adam Jacobs as the play’s lead, Aladdin, and Courtney Reed as the iconic Disney princess, Jasmine.
Jonathan Freeman, the original voice of the villain, Jafar, reprises his role for the stage show. The musical’s director and choreographer, Casey Nicholaw, has directed other musicals such as The Book of Mormon. He was unavailable to comment.
The Ed Mirvish Theatre (formerly known as the Canon Theatre), near Yonge and Dundas streets, is the current home for the musical. Randy Alldread, public relations manager for Mirvish Productions told Humber News he’s delighted Disney is choosing to premiere Aladdin in Toronto.
“It’s remarkable,” said Alldread. “It’s great that Disney considers us worthy to have Aladdin premiere here before Broadway.”
New songs have been added for the stage. Along with memorable tunes, such as ‘A Whole New World,’ and ‘Friend Like Me,’ songs that were cut from the movie are now being included. One of those is ‘Proud Of Your Boy,’ a song created by the film’s lyricists Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman. The song has been brought back to life, to honor Ashman’s original dream for Aladdin.
Dan Parr, a music professor at Humber’s Lakeshore campus, told Humber News he hasn’t seen the new musical, but thinks it’s great that new songs are being added.
“The stage show is bound to have a different structure than the film version, so it’s natural that new musical material is needed,” said Parr in an email to Humber News. “The fact that the ‘new’ songs are actually from the same brood as those in the film means that they should fit in nicely.”
Why have Aladdin premiere in Toronto? Alldread said it’s because Toronto is booming with opportunity for the theatre industry.
“We are the third-largest theatre district in the English-speaking language,” said Alldread.
Since Aladdin is a pre-Broadway engagement, the show is expected to attract people from everywhere in Ontario and beyond. It’s an example of the exponential impact the theatre business has on Toronto’s entertainment district, according to local businesses, which note nearby restaurants and hotels benefit from big shows like this.
Paramount Fine Foods Inc. on 253 Yonge Street is just one minute away from the Ed Mirvish Theatre. Ali Khalil, manager of the restaurant told Humber News the location of the business benefits them, since many theatregoers also explore their food.
“The theatre digs up huge volumes (of people),” said Khalil on the traffic of customers he sees regularly.
Khalil said he sees many theatregoers and often hears the customers ask for their food to be rushed because they have to run to the theatre shortly afterwards.
Khalil reassures theatregoers in the area that Paramount serves its customers fast, and efficiently.
“Try a shwarma before the play,” Khalil said jokingly.
Aladdin at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, is running until Jan. 5. For more information, go to mirvish.com.