February 4, 2022
The coronavirus pandemic notoriously shut down New York City’s beloved Broadway for about a year-and-a-half, causing as much as $1.8 billion in lost ticket sales, going by 2018-9 season numbers. When Broadway reopened in the fall of 2021, it felt triumphant, only for some shows to take a pause, yet again, for the Omicron wave. Well, Broadway is now back — again.
Aladdin, one of Disney’s most profitable properties, is also back. The first Broadway run, from 2014 to 2019, grossed over $400 million, and the live action resurrection of the animated favorite grossed over $1 billion in 2019. This time, the musical re-envisions Agrabah — a white gaze-y mishmash of South Asia and Western Asia — with a new cast featuring Indian American leads Shoba Narayan and Michael Maliakel as Princess Jasmine and Aladdin, respectively.
If their names sound familiar, you likely have encountered them before. Narayan played the younger Priyanka Chopra in tv series Quantico and Eliza Hamilton in Hamilton. Maliakel debuted in 2017’s Monsoon Wedding musical and starred in Other World, a musical about friends stuck inside a video game. Now, both are playing leads in a very notable Disney property.
We sat down with the leads to chat about what made this latest iteration of Aladdin so funny, why the show has Disney’s highest bar tab sales, how they influenced the choreography and costumes, and where the Aladdin franchise should go next.