Disney fans are in for a treat this year, as Aladdin The Musical makes its Singapore premiere at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands this July! With Singapore as its one and only Asian stop, the Australian touring cast is set to breathe life into this beloved modern classic based on the 1992 animated film of the same name about a common thief whose life changes forever when he finds a genie in a magic lamp.
At the media call held last Tuesday, Disney Theatrical Productions Associate Producer Paula McKinnon addressed members of the media, saying: “Aladdin the Musical has been embraced by all the countries in the world, with 6 productions currently playing worldwide. In Australia and New Zealand alone, it’s already been seen by over 1.4 million audience members. And it’s no wonder, with such a strong lineup of iconic songs both from the original film and new ones too to expand and enrich this timeless tale. We’re delighted to bring Aladdin the Musical to Singapore for the first time, and honoured to stage it at the gorgeous Sands Theatre.”
The principal cast of Aladdin features Australian actors Graeme Isaako as Aladdin, Shubshri Kandiah as princess Jasmine, and Gareth Jacobs in the role of the Genie. While the media preview did not feature the sets and costumes, each of the principal cast members performed songs from the musical and took questions from host Allan Wu and members of the media.
Graeme opened with “Proud of Your Boy”, a song that was meant to originally be in the animated film, but was cut for various reasons. Says Graeme: “All the songs in Aladdin are so relatable. It’s always a delight to see the audience react to the ones they know by heart, and you can practically feel the excitement from them before those numbers and really connect to the song. New songs like Proud of Your Boy though, they can really apply to any situation, and there’s this sense of wonderment in audiences as they’re introduced to it for the very first time as they fall in love with it.”
“For me,” he continues. “Aladdin was one of my favourite Disney movies, and it really left an impact on me when I first watched it at age 9. The fact that it had people of colour, it made me think ‘Hey, that could be me!’ And now 20 years later, revisiting it, it’s like walking down memory lane again, on a brand new journey with this show.”
On being cast in the role, Graeme explains: “Like Aladdin, I’m very energetic and a little cheeky, so we share a lot of similar characteristics. Doing all the parkour and jumping over buildings, it’s a challenge, but also very exciting for me, plus, the crew always makes sure the stunts are safe, for both me and other performers. We always get the chance to develop our characters and keep working on them throughout the run, so the performance always feels fresh.”
“We play off the energy of the audience a lot,” says Graeme. “They give us love, but we also give each other love onstage, and everyone’s really just working together to make it work, both onstage and backstage – you can’t help but enjoy the thrill of the stage each and every night you perform, and I never get tired of it.”
Graeme went on to perform Aladdin’s best known song – romantic, soaring duet ‘A Whole New World’ with his princess Jasmine, Shubshri Kandiah. As her first professional theatre role after graduating from drama school, the role of Jasmine is certainly a coveted one, one that she never would have imagined landing so early on in her career.
Says Shubshri: “Jasmine is this strong, feisty woman and I learn so much playing her every night. I’ve learnt a lot about how to play off my fellow cast members and the audiences’ energy, and my personal favourite number to perform is ‘A Million Miles Away’, this intimate song by both Jasmine and Aladdin as they sing about their hopes and dreams, eyes only for each other in the crowded marketplace.”
Of course, Aladdin would never be what it is without a charming Genie, with Gareth Jacobs taking on the role and performing the jazzy, high energy ‘Friend Like Me’ with gusto. On the role, Gareth explains: “I was lucky enough to have gone to Broadway and even met James Monroe Iglehart, the actor who originated the role, as well as composer Alan Menken. There’s a lot of childhood nostalgia attached to the role, and he’s meant to be this lounge singer type character. I put my own spin on the Genie, something a little different every night, and I’ve got audience members who are still surprised even when they come in and watch a second time.”
“For ‘Friend Like Me’,” he continues. “It’s really one of those challenging numbers, going on for about 15 minutes nonstop. Preparing for such a tour de force of a number, you gotta get a lot of rest before, get ready, and get shot out of a cannon. There’s always such good audience responses, with music, tech, pyrotechnics and more all coming together, and it’s always such a reward to get to even perform it.”
On what he looks forward to most about being in Singapore, Gareth reveals that he used to live here back in the mid-2000s, excited to revisit places he’s familiar with. “Nothing is quite the same as before, new buildings, areas and more. It’s even more exciting for me, and it’s got this whole new world thing going on. I’ve always loved food too, and the cast were at Lau Pa Sat yesterday for a meal. I can’t wait to bring the team down to Little India to get some food from some of my favourite haunts.”
A show of this scale is in no way easy to manage, with 34 cast members, 337 costumes featuring 1,225 different fabrics, 712 different styles of beads and almost 500,000 Swarovski crystals, as well as 200 tonnes of scenic elements brought over in 30 shipping containers. Says Production Company Manager Matthew Henderson: “In some of the pants alone, there’s already 1,200 Swarovski crystals, and when they drop off, we gotta go around picking them up after the show! It’s all so big, so glamorous…and certainly a big challenge for the cast and crew both. Stuff that happens backstage during a huge number like ‘Friend Like Me’ is like a whole other show.”
There’s no denying it – Aladdin the Musical looks set to bring Singapore to a whole new world when they bump in and take the country on a musical, magic carpet ride across the mystique and beauty of Agrabah. Be sure to catch Graeme, Shubshri, Gareth and the rest of the cast when they return to Singapore this July at Aladdin the Musical, only at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands.
Aladdin plays at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands from 21st July 2019. Tickets available from SISTIC