Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway stopped by the University of Texas’s Bass Concert Hall this past February while on their North American tour, and I had the privilege of being in attendance. The Broadway version of Aladdin premiered in 2011, with music from Alan Menken and a book by Chad Beguelin. Since its premiere, the show has toured parts of Europe, Japan, Mexico, and Canada, with the actual Broadway production in New York going strong since 2014. Despite the Broadway musical being an official Disney product inspired by the 1992 animated film, you may be surprised to learn that the two are fairly different. The Broadway version of Aladdin is shining and shimmering, and splendid, don’t get me wrong. However, if you’re going into it thinking it will be an exact replica of the original, you’re in for a shock.
In the Broadway version characters are added, storylines are changed, and the amount of music numbers are increased, all while managing to keep the spirit of the original alive. This version expands on the world the film created. Giving Aladdin a group of friends who honestly, became my favorite characters. The end results and major plot points of the story remain, but the way in which we get there is tailored for the stage rather than animation. The most noticeable change, and not for the best reasons, is the way they modernized the dialogue in nearly every scene. This, at times, created a disconnect between the world of Agrabah and the characters. The Genie references a plethora of recent (and old) memes, at one point even saying “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” which is a rather strange choice for a Broadway play set around the 18th century. Even the way Jasmine and Aladdin interact with each other is reminiscent of two high schoolers bluntly flirting rather than the passionate but subtle tension in the original.
That being said, I was still having a good time. The singing was heavenly, the outfits were mesmerizing, and the entire production was wildly entertaining. To me, a seasoned Disney kid, it definitely felt like I was watching a fun though separate piece of media. However, the kids in the audience couldn’t care less. They dressed up as the characters, sang the songs, and I even heard one of them thank their mom afterward for allowing them to attend. I think this tour of Aladdin is the perfect event to bring your kiddos to, especially if they love Disney. If you aren’t a parent, but are a hardcore Disney or Broadway lover, this event is still for you. I had the fortune of attending the show on Valentine’s Day and there were plenty of adult couples swooning during “A Whole New World”.
That being said, it is not a cheap event. Prices for the day I attended started at $130 and went all the way up to $264. I had a fun time, don’t get me wrong, but if I was a parent of two kids that night could have cost upwards of $500, not including service fees. They have the Broadway title and they are definitely charging Broadway prices, and if I’m honest I’m not sure if that’s totally warranted. I have attended Broadway plays before, both in New York City and on Tour, and while Aladdin on Tour is certainly an impressive production, it did leave some things to be desired. When you think Broadway you think of massive setpieces, polished dancing, and an overwhelmingly worthwhile experience. The set design and overall feel was not, to me, on the same level as the productions I’d previously seen.
However, if you are a massive Disney / Broadway fan, or have children who share those interests, I would highly recommend going. It’s a cute date or family-friendly outing filled with nostalgia and Disney magic. If you’re on the fence, listening to the Broadway soundtrack is a good way to gauge your interests. Aladdin’s Broadway Tour is an expense for sure, but if you don’t mind splurging it’ll be a beautiful Arabian Night.