Rhinegold Photo credit: © DISNEY

Ali Warren

A whole new world: Disney’s Aladdin resource review

9:00, 1st October 2018

Secondary teacher Alison Warren outlines the teaching resources which are available to support the stage adaption of Disney’s Aladdin in the West End.

It’s that time of year. The guilt is starting to set in. You’ve had a holiday and now it’s time to start thinking about your plans for the new year. And in the middle of the schemes of work it’s probably a nice idea to plan an educational treat for you and your students. The new production of Disney’s Aladdin may be just what you’re looking for – especially as it comes with an interesting range of educational resources to prepare your students for a special experience in the West End.

The obvious group to take to a show like this would be Key Stage 3 students, and the Disney team has created a special pack for this age group. This pack is called Cave of Wonders and focuses on the possibilities for creative work inspired by the fictional world of Aladdin. The focus is on literacy but the outline of materials could be adapted for any subject area that suits the individual needs of your class. The pack includes:

  • A glossary, a summary of the story’s journey to the stage and a scene synopsis
  • A character list
  • Script extracts of two scenes from the show

All the materials are colourfully and attractively presented with some nice illustrations from the production.

For older groups – GCSE and BTEC – the materials include some opportunities to both explore the show as a piece of entertainment and to look at how this kind of production moves from the animated film platform to the musical theatre stage. This business focused approach fits particularly well with BTEC units related to the Music Business units which are now part of the examination.

First I will look at the resources pack. While nicely presented, it is a fairly familiar format for this kind of support material. The pack gives insight into the show that provides more detail than a theatre programme – though it is quite wordy and would need careful handling for some students to appreciate the detail of the content.

More attractive for students to really get inside the show is the online video content being provided to support visits. This will appeal to students interested in the production aspect of theatre and those who want to find out about roles and careers in the theatre industry, and it will fit in well with a musical theatre business scheme of work. The video features Ben Clare, the resident UK choreographer, who introduces the show and takes us through the rehearsal process; production manager Spencer New; and general manager Richard Oriel, who gives an insight into how to move a show from the rehearsal room to the stage.

Of course, the most exciting part of any educational support for a West End show is the opportunity for the students to take part in a workshop before they get to see it. In my experience, this is the bit that my students love more than anything else: they get hopelessly excited when ‘their’ number comes up on stage and the challenge then is to stop them doing the moves in their seats!

While the workshops are well worth it, they are an additional cost on the visit (£12.50 per participant) – but they do allow a good focus on the show. You can choose from two options: scene study, which focuses on characterisation and comic technique for the acting side of the show; or music and movement, where the group learns the opening number of the show Arabian Nights, including vocals and choreography. These can be arranged before the production in rehearsal spaces near the Prince Edward Theatre. The workshops are led by Disney-trained professionals.

So, to quote the Genie himself: ‘Today’s special moments are tomorrow’s memories.’ Why not include the opportunity to explore a new West End musical in your planning for your new academic year – and create a few special moments for your students?

Theatrical Teaching Artists from Disney’s Aladdin will lead a vocal workshop for teachers at Music & Drama Education Expo | Manchester on 11 October. Book free tickets.

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