The stage at Sofitel Hotel in Mumbai was lit up with colourful lights as two performers beautifully recreated American composer Alan Menken’s A Whole New World at a press event on Tuesday.
After the successful staging of the Beauty and the Beast musical in 2015, Disney, along with licence partner BookMyShow, will be premiering India’s first Aladdin musical in Mumbai in April. The musical will also have seasons in Delhi and Hyderabad through the course of the year.
Theatre actors Siddharth Menon and Taaruk Raina will play Aladdin, while musical theatre artiste Kira Narayanan will play Jasmine. Popular radio jockey and television personality Mantra will be playing the role genie. “We did Beauty and the Beast in 2015 and at that time it was a big bet,” Abhishek Maheshwari, the India head of Disney, told Scroll.in. “We weren’t sure of the supply side of things and also the demand. But we were pleasantly surprised at the quality of talent. What really blew us off was the demand side. That gave us the confidence to try and bring more of these experiences here.”
The makers of the musical explained that the story of Aladdin was a natural fit for the stage, particularly for Indian audiences. “Aladdin is a very well know story,” Maheswari said. “In this art form, it helps if the audience knows the story. The reason people watch it over and over again is because of the storytelling. It is the experience that surrounds it.”
The musical will also carry an Indian touch without losing the essence of the original, Maheshwari assured. “It is not to say that Indian audience cannot enjoy a Broadway musical,” he said. “They absolutely can. The idea is to tell the same story in a way in which Indian audiences can relate to it. Some of those are really the surprise elements of the show. Indianising does not mean that we are lowering the standards or that we are producing something cheap and cheerful.”
Many members from the creative team of the Beauty and the Beast musical were retained for Aladdin, the makers added. “They [the crew] understood what a Broadway-style musical of this scale means,” Maheshwari said. “That is really the one that helped us propel Aladdin.”
Ashish Hemrajani, the co-founder and CEO of BookMyShow, said that India fits the bill for musicals because of the country’s fondness for music. “India is a very musical country,” Hemrajani said at the event. “Look at our films, they are filled with music. And Indians love listening to music. But the audience is also becoming very discerning. They understand this format a lot more. We saw the success in Beauty and the Beast.”