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INTERVIEW – Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ on Broadway Star Michael Maliakel, the First South Asian to Play Aladdin

Michael Maliakel as Aladdin in Aladdin on Broadway photo by Matthew Murphy c Disney min

Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway is a groundbreakingly diverse production, featuring the first South Asian performers to play Princess Jasmine and Aladdin. Previously, I spoke with Shoba Narayan, who plays Jasmine, about her experience and background. Of course, my coverage wouldn’t be complete without also speaking with Aladdin!

I chatted with Narayan’s counterpart, Michael Maliakel, who made is Broadway debut with this role. Maliakel spoke about his audition process, which was his first in-person audition since the start of the pandemic, as well as the intense physicality of the role. A vocal advocate of representation, Maliakel also talked about what it means to him to represent the South Asian community in such an important role, and what he hopes brown kids will take away from his performance.

Check out our conversation below and get tickets to watch Maliakel and Narayan in Aladdin on Broadway at aladdinthemusical.com!

POCculture.com Interview with Michael Maliakel

Aladdin, the hit musical based on the Academy Award®-winning animated film, opened on Broadway to critical acclaim at the New Amsterdam Theatre on March 20, 2014 and quickly established itself as one of the biggest new blockbusters in recent years, breaking 14 New Amsterdam Theatre house records. Worldwide it has welcomed more than 10 million people and grossed over $1 billion. By the end of 2021, it will be playing in Holland, Germany and Mexico, in addition to Broadway.

Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, under the direction of Thomas Schumacher, the show features music by Tony Award and eight-time Oscar® winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Sister Act), lyrics by two-time Oscar winner Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), three-time Tony Award and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice (Evita, Aida) and six-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), with a book by Beguelin, and is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon).

Aladdin, adapted from the animated Disney film and centuries-old folktales including “One Thousand and One Nights,” is brought to fresh theatrical life in this bold new musical. Aladdin’s journey sweeps audiences into an exciting world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance. This new production features a full score, including the five cherished songs from the Academy Award-winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage. The animated film Aladdin was released by Disney in 1992 and was a critical and box office smash, becoming the highest-grossing film of the year.

The film won the Oscar for Best Original Score and introduced the hit song “A Whole New World,” which won the second of the film’s two Academy Awards as Best Original Song. The Peabo Bryson/Regina Belle recording of the tune soared to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Aladdin is designed by seven-time Tony-winning scenic designer Bob Crowley, six-time Tony winning lighting designer Natasha Katz, two-time Tony-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes and sound designer Ken Travis.

The production team also includes illusion designer Jim Steinmeyer, hair designer Josh Marquette and makeup designer Milagros Medina-Cerdeira. The music team is headed by music supervisor and music director Michael Kosarin, who also created the vocal and incidental music arrangements, joined by orchestrator Danny Troob and dance music arranger Glen Kelly.

Anne Quart serves as co-producer.

For more information, visit AladdinTheMusical.com.

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Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture.  He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.

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