Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ Opens on Broadway: What, No Camels?

Disney's 'Aladdin' Opens on Broadway: What,
Walter McBride/WireImage

For director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw, Broadway’s go-to guy for musical comedy (“The Book of Mormon,” “Elf,” “The Drowsy Chaperone”), Broadway’s “Aladdin” marked the first work with Disney Theatrical Prods., the legit arm of the studio.

It’s the kind of gig that, to an observer, might sound like an entree to a magical world of Hollywood-blockbuster coffers where a director’s every extravagant staging wish is his producer’s command.

Not so much, it turns out. “Yes, there are resources, but they’re always going to question things because they’re smart producers,” Nicholaw said just before the show’s March 20 opening performance. “Besides, if we had 15,000 camels up there, it would stink backstage.”

For book writer and lyricist Chad Beguelin, who collaborated with original film composer Alan Menken on the new material for the show, the production offered the intimidating opportunity to work on his favorite of the animated Disney musicals.

“The first song Alan and I wrote together, he played me the melody and then turned to me and said, ‘What do you think?’ ” Beguelin recalled at the New Amsterdam Theater, where opening nighters included Bob Iger, Tina Fey and Sting. “And I’m looking at all his Oscars thinking, ‘Am I allowed to answer that?’ ”

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