To my parents in the 1930s, the name Disney meant Mickey Mouse. Now the name is associated not only with successful big screen animated movies voiced by superstars but also with blockbuster musical theatre productions. Recently on Australian stages we’ve seen The Lion King and Mary Poppins both brilliantly adapted from Disney movies; next into our theatres is Aladdin also adapted from a movie which in 1992 enjoyed astounding worldwide success. The Australian stage production of Aladdin opens in Sydney’s Capitol Theatre on 11 August.
Of course Aladdin has its roots in ancient folk tales including One Thousand and One Nights, so in that sense it is part of our cultural memory. Childhood book versions encouraged us to imagine having a magic lamp to bring forth a genie delivering whatever we wanted. Its a notion still embedded in populist political parties here: don’t worry, rub the lamp and you can have it all. But many of us understand that for fantasy we need to go to the theatre and this production is likely to deliver that in spades.
Aladdin opened on Broadway in March 2014 to acclaim and box office success. It is a mark of Disney’s confidence in the maturity and depth of our market that it should invest in a production here so soon. These are wondrously spectacular productions; any young person who sees them will never forget them, acquiring an enduring love of theatre.
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