NEW YORK — Disney’s “Aladdin” is the latest animated feature to get the legit treatment. But its magic carpet isn’t destined for Broadway.
The new stage musical is the first major project on Anne Hamburger’s slate as exec VP of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. “Aladdin” opens Dec. 9 at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim.
With the original film score by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, the show has been given a new book by Chad Beguelin (“The Rhythm Club”) and will be presented under the direction of opera helmer Francesca Zambello. Choreography is by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, who staged “Swing!” on Broadway.
Hamburger surprised the legit world when she left her gig as artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse in 2000, after only one season. She had previously been longtime artistic director of En Garde Arts, the legit company she founded that was well known for its site-specific theater works.
Her quick switch to Disney’s theme parks stunned some observers, who thought Hamburger might end up overseeing parades. “I got both reactions,” Hamburger said of the appointment. “There were a lot of people who were excited and got it. In my mind, I can do what I always did, but instead of one location, I’ve now got a worldwide palace.”
Could go legit
As for taking “Aladdin” beyond the Disney theme parks, Hamburger didn’t rule it out. “That is up to Tom Schumacher and Michael Eisner. If it works to make it into a two-hour show and take it to Broadway, they will,” she said. “But my focus is on the theme parks.”
Zambello’s participation continues the House of Mouse’s recent tradition of putting cutting-edge directors, such as Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”) and Matthew Bourne (“The Little Mermaid”), in charge of its legit productions.
Reviled or lauded for her bizarre interpretations of classic operas, Zambello will stage Hector Berlioz’s five-hour-plus extravaganza “Les Troyens” at the Metropolitan Opera this season. Her last outing there was a very cerebral “Lucia di Lammermoor,” in 1992, which the conservative opera company yanked from its repertory after only two seasons.
“Aladdin” will be performed multiple times, seven days a week, employing two casts and crews. Casting director is Arnold J. Mungioli.