Anyone who knows me knows that I love Broadway! Musical Theatre Geeks Unite! So, when D23 Expo announced there would be a musical journey through Aladdin panel, I was all over it. Mostly because I just a had to catchup with my good girlfriend Lillias White and hear my friend Norm Lewis turn it up with Regina Belle.
This musical journey not only presented one Aladdin, but four!!!! Scott Weinger (the animated speaking voice), Brad Kane (the animated singing voice), Mena Massoud (the live action Aladdin) and the latest Aladdin to join the Broadway company Clinton Greenspan all hit the stage sharing stories of their auditions, exclusive recording footage from the animated feature and what being cast in the iconic role meant to each one.
You can’t have Aladdin without Princess Jasmine and that’s exactly what we go when Linda Larkin (the speaking voice of Jasmine) and the Disney Park Jasmine, Deedee Hall (who flew in from Guan where she is starring in Mamma Mia) hit the stage singing ‘To Be Free’. Broadway veteran and Tony Winner Lillias White blessed us with her soul-stirring rendition of ‘Speechless’, Norm Lewis joined Regina Belle to belt out A Whole New World and Choreographer Jamal Sims provided the highlight of the panel breaking out moves from ‘A Friend Like Me’ along with a fantabulous troupe of dancers.
My diehard Disney geeks may think they know all there is to know about Aladdin, but there are some things you may not know….
–Jonathan Freeman (the voice of Jafar in the animated Aladdin) also re-created the role on Broadway where he is still performing the role 8 shows a week.
–To Be Free was a song written specifically for Jasmine for the Disney Parks version of Aladdin
–Deedee Hall was a Mouseketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club and auditioned with Brad Kane
-There was no solo song for Jasmine when Linda Larkin auditioned for the role
-To date there have been 85k fireworks use, 63 miles of carpet flown, 337 costumes and 428 crystals on one pair of pants that have been used in the stage version.
–Desert Moon was a song and sequence that was cut from the Live Action version that was absolutely gorgeous
Of course, you can’t do a panel on Aladdin and not mention Robin Williams. The exclusive booth footage shown reminds you why we fell in love with him as the Genie in the first place.
Blooper reels, booth footage, trivia and personalized performances from all four versions was an absolute treat. If you have not seen Aladdin, you can catch the original animated version on Disney Plus when it launches on November 12th, hit NYC and catch the Broadway production or get reacquainted through the live-action version starring Will Smith on DVD and Blu-ray when it releases on September 10, 2019 and is currently available on Digital HD from Amazon Video and iTunes on August 27, 2019.