I had the absolute pleasure of going backstage at Aladdin on Broadway and got a behind-the-scenes look at the amazing set and elaborately embellished costumes. You wouldn’t believe the intricacies that go into creating the colorful world of Agrabah. It was by far one of the most impressive things I have ever seen, and I’m so excited to share the experience with you!
I was first taken into the wings (trying to keep my cool, of course) to see the set pieces that would be used in the performance just one hour later. Magnificent gold shimmering towers for the Cave of Wonders, a tall white birdcage for Jasmine’s chambers—I saw it all and the nostalgia gave me butterflies. In a recent interview with Gregg Barnes, two-time Tony Award-winning costume designer for Aladdin on Broadway, he mentions that set designer Bob Crowley and and Tom Schumacher, President of Disney Theatrical Productions, traveled to Morocco to look at architecture and mosaics, to better envision the set. They did an incredible job blending what we already know and love about Aladdin’s setting with real-life cultural inspiration.
Next, I was taken downstairs to the costume department. I pretty much walked into my dream closet—crystals on everything, fringed bugle beading at every hem, and hats galore! I learned that there are almost 350 costumes in the performance overall and 210 total turbans (80 in “Prince Ali” alone!), and couldn’t imagine the lengthy process and hours of work that went into the room I was so fortunate to be standing in. Where does one even begin?
“Unlike fashion, it’s a collective—I listen to all of the different voices and try to come up with my own vision … I looked at lots of designers who do work that is extravagant. Fashion design is meant to exist on a runway for 35 seconds but we have to have the actor do a triple cartwheel or wear a wig for many years,” Barnes described.
Barnes had many influences in creating his vision for each costume. He gathered inspiration from old movies, belly dancers, designers who brilliantly do excessive luxury like Dior and LaCroix, Dancing with the Stars, and so much more.
As I walked through the room, I started seeing costumes that were inspired by the animated film but were much more ornate. Jasmine’s two-piece teal blue outfit and Aladdin’s vest and pants were easy to pick out because they were so recognizable.
“We start with the [design from] the animation. We take the animation and honor it so when [Jasmine] comes on stage you know who she is, but we made it our own. With Aladdin, in the animation he has white pants and a purple vest; so I said to the director, ‘That’s useful; he will come into this elaborate marketplace and be noticed.”
One of my favorite secrets in the show is that that there are 71 looks and 47 quick changes in the “Prince Ali” number! In the performance, dancers continuously file out of the big palace door making it look like there are 100 people in the scene while there are really only 24.
“Everyone looks a little fatter at the beginning of the numbers; by the end they’ve lost a little weight. It’s like a paper doll, each costume gets ripped off in one big ‘whoosh’. They might also switch a turban or put on a piece of jewelry if there’s time (like 15 seconds).”
Needless to say, I was absolutely floored by the beauty of this production and knowing a little bit of the behind-the-scenes action makes it even more remarkable. I can’t recommend it enough!
Purchase your tickets for Aladdin on Broadway online today and experience the magic yourself!