Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ returns to Broadway with early South Asian actors in mind

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Disney’s “Aladdin” reopened on Broadway Tuesday night. One of the stars of the musical grew up in Hamilton Township.

When Shoba Narayan took over the role of Jasmine in “Aladdin”, it was a lifelong dream come true.

“Princess Jasmine was my role model growing up. She was truly the only popular character in American media who looked like me,” Narayan says.

Narayan has now become a model herself. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she is the first South Asian person to play Jasmine on Broadway.

This is not Narayan’s first breakthrough on Broadway. When she made her stage debut several years ago, she was the first actress of South Asian descent to star on Broadway in over a decade.

“I think the fact that I’m going to star in a huge Broadway show – look like I am, be where I am – is a statement in itself. We are here, we are represented,” Narayan says.

When the magical props and sets were staged, it also marked a first for Narayan co-star Michael Maliekel. He first appeared on a Broadway stage in the title role of “Aladdin”.

“And I certainly didn’t expect it to be in such an important role, but it’s a dream come true in every way possible,” he says.

Maliekel also became the first South Asian to play Aladdin on Broadway.

“It’s really special to be the recipient of all the messages from young children who are in school and now playing their plays… young children from India, South Asia and the Middle East,” says Maliekel.

“Aladdin” is performed at the New Amsterdam Theater. The musical began airing on Broadway seven years ago.


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