Behind the curtain with Lauren Clarke: Disney’s “Aladdin”


The Broadway musical “Aladdin,” recently ended its run in Chicago on Sept. 10. This Disney musical was in town for nearly six months, and I was fortunate enough to see it. From fireworks to bejeweled costumes, this show was magical.

Obviously the musical wasn’t an exact replica of the Disney movie we watched when we were kids. Some details, such as Jasmine’s pet tiger Raj, are nearly impossible to add to a stage adaption of the film. Although, extra songs and characters have been added.

“Proud of Your Boy,” a song Aladdin sings in the first act to his late parents about becoming someone, was originally cut from the movie. This song adds depth to Aladdin, and it shows how Aladdin didn’t wish to be a prince just to impress Jasmine, but also to make his parents proud.

There were also additional songs added to the musical, for example “These Palace Walls,” and “High Adventure,” which add to character development of Jasmine and Aladdin.

Three new main characters were also added, Babkak, Omar and Kassim, Aladdin’s best friends. These characters add comedic relief and show how Aladdin wasn’t just a lonely street rat, he had other thief friends. Babkak, Omar and Kassim also are an essential part of the plot, coming to Aladdin’s rescue when Jafar accuses him of being an intruder.

Instead of his trusty parrot sidekick, Jafar’s evil minion was human, still named Iago. He introduced some light to scenes that appeared darker and evil with his witty remarks and parroting some of Jafar’s lines. Jasmine also had an extra song, “These Palace Walls,” which shows how she felt trapped yet she knows she has potential in the real world.

From the streets of Agrabah to Jasmine’s palace, the sets were unbelievable. The way Aladdin’s home consisted of a clothesline and few meager items solidified the idea of an orphaned boy stuck in poverty.

At the end of act one, Aladdin enters the Cave of Wonders and meets the Genie. This might’ve been my favorite set in the show, because it glittered brighter than my future. Every set piece in the scene was sparkling gold, and the song “Friend Like Me” included one magic trick after another. There was sword swallowing, tap dancing and even references to other Disney movies like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Pocahontas” from their songs. The ensemble dancers wore all gold, and the fireworks at the end.

Every single costume except for Aladdin’s thief ensemble is bejeweled, adding magic to the story. The quick change when Jafar wishes to become a Genie was absolutely seamless, only a split second. Every costume, even in the ensemble, was extremely detailed and complex, as the designer Gregg Barnes is a Tony award winner.

The iconic “A Whole New World” scene was majestic, and fog rolled underneath the magic carpet. I had no idea how the magic carpet flew, but there were no strings attached that I could see and it seemed to be floating on its own.

Whether you’re 75 or six years old, this show is perfect for all ages. Although it’s not an exact replica of the original Disney movie, “Aladdin” the Broadway musical brings magic to the theater.