Disney Temporarily Cancels Broadway Performance of ‘Aladdin’ Due to Breakthrough COVID Cases
Indian American actor Michael Maliakel (l) and Michael James Scott attend the Opening Night at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street celebration of NYC event Sept. 9, 2021 in New York City, while Indian American actor Shoba Narayan (right) attends the annual Make Equality Reality Gala hosted by Equality Now Nov. 19, 2019 in New York City. (Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Bloomingdale’s; Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Equality Now)
India-West Staff Reporter
Disney temporarily canceled its Broadway performance of “Aladdin” Sept. 29 due to breakthrough COVID-19 cases, just one day after the show reopened for the first time in 18 months, according to an ANI report.
In a tweet posted by the production, they wrote, “Through our rigorous testing protocols, breakthrough COVID-19 cases have been detected with the company of Aladdin at The New Amsterdam Theatre. Because the wellness and safety of our guests, casts, and crew are our top priority, tonight’s performance, Wednesday, September 29th, is canceled.”
“We will continue to provide support to the affected Aladdin company members as they recover,” the tweet added. Producer Disney Theatrical Productions will be announcing the status of future performances.
As per The Hollywood Reporter, this marks the first Broadway cancellation due to COVID-19 since shows resumed. Theaters began reopening there this summer, and larger musicals including “Chicago” and “Hamilton” returned earlier this month.
The reopened “Aladdin,” based on the hit 1992 Disney animated film and featuring songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin, stars two new leads – Michael Maliakel, making his Broadway debut as the title character, and Shoba Narayan as Jasmine – as well as Michael James Scott as Genie and Jonathan Freeman as Jafar.
The show also features principal cast members Milo Alosi, Zach Bencal and Brad Weinstock, JC Montgomery and Don Darryl Rivera as Iago, as well as numerous ensemble performers.
According to Deadline, in addition to the cast, others present at the Sept. 28 reopening performance were Menken and Beguelin, director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw, and guest Kristin Chenoweth.
The stage production opened on Broadway to critical acclaim at the New Amsterdam Theatre in March 2014.
According to an earlier India-West report, Maliakel recently toured the country in the 25th anniversary production of “The Phantom of the Opera.” His previous credits include “NYC: Anything Can Happen,” “The Songs of Maury Yeston,” Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding” at Berkeley Rep and the CBS shows, “Bull” and “FBI.”
Narayan made her Broadway debut with “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” at the time becoming the first South Asian female in a principal role on Broadway in over a decade.
She previously starred as Eliza in “Hamilton” (national tour) and as Nessarose in “Wicked” (Broadway). Her TV/film credits include “Growing Up Smith,” “Quantico,” “Halal in the Family,” “Gossip Girl” and “Mistress America.”
She is a prize-winning Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher, having performed throughout the U.S. and India.
On the first day of rehearsal Aug. 23, Narayan took to Instagram to share that she was struggling to find the right words to capture what this moment feels like.
“Sometimes words just can’t do justice to emotions,” she wrote. “…I am so unbelievably grateful I get to do what I love most. I am grateful I get to be in the room where it happens, with the most brilliantly talented community of individuals, creating art that makes people feel deeply and think critically…Jasmine, I’m all yours girl.”
In a previous post, she wrote that as a little girl Princess Jasmine was the only character she saw in popular American media who looked like her.
“As artists we all have that story, that moment, that character that inspired us to go down this wild, creative path. Disney played a huge role in that inspiration for me. The princesses were role models of strength, courage and intellect. Then of course there was Princess Jasmine.”
She continued: “Princess Jasmine was special to me. She stood out as a Princess with a self-determination, progressive mindset and a desire to lead a kingdom traditionally ruled by men…. At a time when there was little representation in our media, the film gave audiences a glimpse of the vibrant South Asian and Middle Eastern cultures and those who inhabit them. Getting to portray her now feels full circle. I am beyond honored to tell her story as we usher in a new Broadway.”
(With ANI reporting)