Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ Goes Diamond

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Interviews and Photos by Miriam Spritzer

 

 

Disney’s Aladdin is back in the headlines with the launch of their newest Diamond Edition. After almost 25 years from it’s premiere in 1992, the film still reaches audiences of all ages and nationalities, proving to be a true Disney classic.

The newest Diamond Edition is available on Blu-ray and/or Digital HD in highly quality. It is also a real treat to the film’s fans, bringing fabulous bonus features, from outtakes and cut scenes from the movies, to short documentaries on the film and the Broadway production.

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In celebration of the Diamond Edition’s launch, Disney brought together the leads from the film and Broadway productions to talk with the press and share their thoughts on this new mile stone. Theater Pizzazz’ Miriam Spritzer was on the scene to speak with the Jasmines – Linda Larkin and Courtney Reed;  the Aladdins – Scott Weinger and Adam Jacobs; the Genie James Monroe Iglehart and the dear villains Jafar and Iago -Jonathan Freeman and Gilbert Gottfried.

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Scott Weigner  (film Aladdin), told us about his audition for the role, where he had to sing “Proud of Your Boy,” a song that was cut out from the film but is in the Broadway production. With a great sense of humor he explained “I had no idea it was a big deal, which is why I did well in the audition. The Little Mermaid was already out, but Beauty and the Beast wasn’t. I didn’t know Aladdin was going to be part of this thing. Had I known, I’d probably would have been so nervous.”

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Adam Jacobs, who plays the role on Broadway, had a different experience, explaining: “I grew up with the film. Loved it. I did know that there was a lot of pressure when playing an iconic character.  It’s just been amazing to be part of that process, to see where it started with the magic that these guys made (film cast) to the magic that we are making on Broadway. It’s pretty phenomenal.”

Jonathan Freeman, who plays Jafar in the stage version, mentioned “I always wanted to play a villain in an animated film; those characters appeal to me.” Freeman explained he was happy that the opportunity of playing the same role on Broadway was there for him, “There are not that many actors who had had the same opportunity to play the same character for a very long period of time. It’s a different work. I am glad I said yes and it was available to me. There is no other person who has taken an animated character and played it in theater.”

The whole film cast explained that they could not imagine how big the film would be. Gilbert Gottfried, the film’s Iago, said “It’s funny, we were just talking with the cast today that at the time we were doing it, we were happy to have the work and have our names attached with a Disney production, but it was basically a job.” Jonathan Freeman added “We didn’t know it would be this long term thing we would be talking about 25 years later. You just never know.”

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Linda Larkin comments that Jasmine’s strong personality was definitely one of the highlights of the job. “It was so much fun, expressing that side of a woman’s personality. It was exciting to be this modern princess. Just in the news this year the marriage laws have change, and in the movie she has a line where she says to her father “The law is wrong.” Twenty three years later, the current” Courtney Reed, who plays the character on Broadway, added “She was definitely ahead of her time!”

When asking how Aladdin changed their lives, Scott tells us “I wasn’t pursuing a career in voice-over at the time, and I haven’t pursued it since. It was just this thing that happened. It’s funny because it turned to something that I took for granted at first that I was Aladdin and people would freak out and remind me that it was a big deal; but now that I am a dad, I appreciate it in a whole new level.”

The iconic success of the film was so unexpected to the cast, that to this day, they are still amazed about its popularity.  Gilbert shared “I went to Disney just a couple of years ago, and it would be one of those things where you would see a picture or a little figure and say “oh, that’s me.”  Linda told us “I always love seeing images, little kids wearing t-shirts with Jasmine. She is close to my heart.”

James Monroe Iglehart talked about his creative process for Genie and trying to stay away from copying Robin Williams. The Tony Award Winner definitely made his signature Genie, and shared “I have so much fun doing it. If you are going to work this much, it has to be with something that you enjoy very much.” He adds that the show changed his life for being a working actor to a known one.

For Adam Jacobs, Aladdin is especially important.  “This is the first time I originated a role. It’s every actor’s dream. So you get to built the character.” When asked about what he took from Scott’s Aladdin, he said “I definitely used aspects of the movie;  the main thing was Aladdin makes everything look very easy, effortless. And that was what I wanted to take the most.”

I asked Courtney about her take on Jasmine, and how much she modeled after Linda’s Jasmine. Courtney said “To me, the movie is absolutely perfect, so I would take a lot of the same line reads as her, because that’s what the character is. I didn’t think I had to stray so far from the movie, but I did bring a little bit of myself to it.”  Linda added “and the theatrical production is its own thing.  Jasmine has friends… so there are a lot of opportunities for Courtney to create a signature performance.”

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