Lately, Disney has been on a tear to redo some of their, what I call, “new classics” into live action films, some to really wonderful results. (Case in point: Cinderella.) One that we are really looking forward to is Aladdin!
Blast from the Past
When Aladdin came out in 1992, I was a young adult in college, but I wasn’t too cool for this wonderful musical set in the fictional kingdom of Agrabah, even if it was a “cartoon”. Growing up in musical theater, I was excited for a movie with music composed by Alan Menken of Little Shop of Horrors fame, alongside lyricists Tim Rice of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Howard Ashman of Little Shop of Horrors. Disney was just getting warmed up making animated musicals with Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, and I wanted a front row seat for all of them! Plus, I think my brothers were relieved to finally see a movie with a male lead character!
Aladdin at the Hyperion
Whenever we visited Disney California Adventure, we would always make time for Aladdin: a Musical Spectacular at the Hyperion Theater. It was so fun to watch the Genie, who would improvise his lines to add in current cultural references to keep the show fresh. While there is no substitute for the late, great Robin Williams, the Genie in this show came in a very close second. In 2016, the show was replaced by Frozen Live at the Hyperion.
Will Smith as the Genie
I was a little surprised when we watched the trailer that revealed Will Smith as the Genie. When we saw the full trailer, I realized that his interpretation of the character would not be a Robin Williams clone, but that he would make it his own. That’s okay with me; I love Will Smith. Even though this is a remake, it doesn’t have to be a clone. I am excited to see what Smith brings to this movie.
Along with casting Will Smith, I’m happy to see that other parts in this version were cast to reflect the diversity of the characters. Agrabah is not filled with white people, but is somewhere in the middle East or South Asia. The cast in this version reflects those cultures in a much truer sense than the first film did. It looks like a true feast for the senses, and we are looking forward to taking it all in!