January 16, 2003 – Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular Opens in Disneyland
“Must I yearn forever to be free, free to climb a tree and ponder, free to wander?” – Jasmine, “To Be Free.”
On January 16, 2003, the first performance of Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular premiered in the Hyperion Theater at the Hollywood Pictures Backlot in Disneyland’s California Adventure Park. Based on the 1992 hit animated film, the Broadway-style musical uses many special effects and elaborate puppetry to transfer the essence of the animated film to the live-action stage, including Aladdin and Jasmine’s enchanted carpet ride around the theater. The 45-minute show is one of the more popular events in Disneyland.
Many of the film’s elements are retained in this stage production: many of the musical numbers by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Sir Tim Rice are performed, and the show includes a new number with lyrics and music by Alan Menken, entitled To Be Free. A cast recording released in 2003 contains many of the instrumental tracks used throughout the show. The cast on the recording includes Miles Wesley as Aladdin, Dee Dee Magno as Jasmine, and Nick Santa Maria as The Genie.
Thanks to the show’s popularity at Disneyland, Aladdin has begun its journey to other stages, heading toward a Broadway production, if the show does well. A version of the show opened at Seattle’s 5th Street Theater in July, 2011, and another production is scheduled from July 5th through the 13th at The Muny Theater in St. Louis. This new production will include songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman that had been cut from earlier drafts of the film.