In 2003, Disney’s California Adventure began a multi-year run of a 45-minute, live action musical adaptation of the 1992 animated musical movie “Aladdin,” with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.
Upon seeing that show when it premiered, I told friends that if Disney expanded this production it would make a terrific Broadway musical.
Obviously, Disney thought so too, because a full-length version of “Aladdin” opened on Broadway five years ago. The National Tour of “Aladdin” lands at Segerstrom Center March 6-23.
“We have people from our show that were in the California Adventure show,” Lissa deGuzman told me during a recent interview while “Aladdin” was playing in San Diego. DeGuzman plays Jasmine in the touring production that launched nearly two years ago. She was originally an understudy and dance captain, but assumed the lead role of Jasmine last fall. Pretty impressive for someone who just graduated in 2016 with a degree in Musical Theatre.
“It’s been exciting—a wonderful two years with the company,” said deGuzman. A newbie to the touring life, deGuzman said it’s a different kind of lifestyle when you’re on the road.
“I personally love the challenge of reducing my entire life to two suitcases,” she laughed. “I really enjoy it. The time to travel is now, and I would not be able to see these cities if I was not on this tour. I love eating the food and knowing the way of life in each city. Just learning to live locally so I know what that city is like.”
DeGuzman said that the audiences, and their reaction to the show, can vary with each city.
“Overall, we get a wonderful reaction at the end, but it’s about reading the energy of each city,” she said. “Some cities like some jokes more than others, so it keeps us fresh. We do the show eight performances a week but the audiences help keep it fresh. We take them along on this journey and tell the story with the heart that’s in it. There is so much in this show, there’s something for everyone.”
DeGuzman said she relishes her role as Jasmine, the beautiful princess whose father tells her to choose a husband within 24 hours.
“I love Jasmin, she’s a strong and forward-thinking character not willing to settle. She wants to be every woman’s woman. I want every woman to come and see the show and identify with Jasmine. She is such a beautiful role model. There is a little part of her in everyone.”
So what is it like for deGuzman to sing the iconic “Aladdin” songs?
“I have to pinch myself,” she said. “I grew up with the animated feature, and to be able to hear the orchestration and sing with it, it’s amazing. It’s so much fun for me. I am so honored to sing these songs. And this touring production is the full Broadway show, it’s not downsized in any way. It’s an amazing show.”
For tickets, visit SCFTA.org.