If only they'd look closer
Would they see a poor boy? No siree
They'd find out there's so much more to me.
This year, Disney debuted their new Broadway stage show based on Aladdin. I feel like it kind of quietly came out since I haven't really heard anything about it! They had a fun performance on the Tony Awards though which led me to picking up the cast recording and I wanted to talk a bit about the differences between the movie soundtrack and the show's cast recording. Because there are many differences!
The different orchestration strikes me at first. "Prince Ali" has a really strong jazzy influence, that makes it almost cartoonish sounding (haha, interesting that the animated version wasn't as cartoonish) and with "A Whole New World" - oh no. It's pared down, takes a while to build, and begins with Aladdin sort of talk-singing. It really felt underwhelming somehow. Granted I am VERY much a fan of the film version. But according to most reviews, that flying carpet scene in the show is amazing, so maybe it fits better somehow with the scene.
The show begins with a very info-dump-ish version of "Arabian Nights" which is a little long to listen to and the number is led by the Genie I believe. Fortunately everything with the Genie afterwards sounds amazing! "Friend Like Me" is the crowdpleasing number, and they did something really interesting in this show by having the Genie do a pastiche on other Disney songs including "Beauty and the Beast", "Part of Your World" and "Colors of the Wind". The Genie, of course, needs to steal the show as often as possible and he does it completely in this number. It must be so much fun to watch. I do think the Tony Awards performance was a little bland somehow, but I hope it was just that performance.
Jasmine has one song which was not very memorable to me - the same goes for Jafar and Iago's song and everything that Aladdin's friends sing (a new subplot to the story). But I do want to mention how cool it is that the original actor to voice Jafar in the film is playing Jafar in the stage show!
There are a few songs that were originally written for the movie that are now included in the show, but the best one really is "Proud of Your Boy." I just love this one! And it lets the actor Adam Jacobs really show off what a beautiful voice he has. This song gave me chills the first time I listened to it - there's so much emotion behind the lyrics.
I think the highlights of this cast recording are "Proud of Your Boy", "Friend Like Me" and the two bonus tracks where we get to hear Adam Jacobs practice "Proud of Your Boy", and James Monroe Iglehart tries a medley of Disney songs including "Go the Distance", "Kiss the Girl", and "Gaston". If you are curious about this recording but not ready to buy the whole thing - definitely try the first two songs I mentioned at least! Of course if I ever get the chance to see this show live, I'm taking it! Even if I was unimpressed with some of the recording, it's Aladdin. I have to see it!