Setting a new standard in quality!
While the stage play itself is said to be spectacular, the book by Disney Press which chronicles the journey from screen to stage is one of the most beautiful Broadway books ever. Covered in purple satin with gold foil, immediately it makes an impression that something amazing awaits. And the interior doesn’t disappoint. With gatefold pages mimicking the stage curtains to reveal storyboards behind them and other pull outs showcasing different aspects of the play, the inside is as impressive as the outside. Not only that but there are beautiful photos from Aladdin stage productions all over the world, interviews with the key creators that brought the Broadway production to life, reflections by the principal Broadway cast, and more!
Title: Aladdin: A Whole New World – The Road to Broadway and Beyond
Author: Michael Lassell
Age: 18 and up
Publisher: Disney Editions (DPW)
Genre: Non-fiction, art
Some of the stories were done interview style while others were seemingly written by the person it was about. Lots of interesting information about the process of putting together something as complex as a Broadway stage production as well as specific information about what goes into Aladdin day in and day out. Did you know that each of Jasmine’s wigs cost $3,500 a piece? Or that there are over 1,000 different fabrics used on the costumes? Or that they have an illusion design specialist to work specifically on things like the flying carpet (Jim Steinmeyer)?
The stories about the production itself are fascinating. The biggest surprise was it was never designed to be a Broadway play. Originally, it was meant to be a musical specifically for regional companies, universities, and local theaters. Prior to that, there was an “Aladdin JR” that had been created as a one-act play for elementary and junior high school productions. According to Producer Thomas Schumacher, Aladdin JR had 4,500 productions under its belt before this version of Aladdin even began development. They hired Chad Beguelin to work on this new version, who actually wrote the beloved Aladdin version that played at Disney California Adventure for years before Frozen recently took over.
And Schumacher also approached Disney Legend Alan Menken about the project. He wrote, “I mentioned it, almost in passing, to Alan Menken. As I remember it, I said something like, ‘You’re not going to want to be involved in this, but we’re doing a full-length version of our little licensing Aladdin to go out to summer stock theaters and such.’ And he said, ‘Why don’t I want to be involved?’ And I said, ‘Because you’re so busy and you’re so important, and this just doesn’t have enough scale as a project to engage you.'” But after spending some time with the group, Menken told Schumacher, “You know, I’d be happy to create new music for this.”(pp. 92-94)
It was surprising to find out how vastly different the musical was from inception to Broadway opening. The numbers of songs that were changed, the ideas that got toyed with and tinkered and discarded, and even whole scenes or characters that were reworked to get the show Broadway ready is fascinating. It took such an amazing series of events, wonderful creative talent, and loads of dedicated people – both cast and crew – to take this regional theater piece to Broadway. And their stories are contained in this book. If you’re a fan of Broadway musicals, a fan of Aladdin, or just interested in how something goes from concept to reality, this is a must read. Plus, the book as I’ve mentioned before is extraordinarily gorgeous.
Small note of care: Because the book cover is satin, there is a little bit of fraying near the edge where the satin meets the binding so just be sure to keep it safe. It’s just so beautiful though you’ll find yourself like me opening it over and over again to look at it.
- The book can be found at your local bookstore or online stores like Amazon.com. Even though the list price is $40.00 at the time of writing it was on sale for $28.62.
- The North American tour begins in Chicago, IL and heads to Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles (where you will definitely find me), and Cincinnati. Find tour info on the Aladdin tour homepage.