Disney’s “Aladdin” has once again canceled performances of the Broadway musical due to breakthrough COVID-19 cases, with the show announcing additional cases just one night after it reopened. The curtain finally rose at the hit show Tuesday after 18 months in the dark due to the pandemic, but Wednesday’s performance was canceled after members of the company tested positive. The show resumed Thursday before the new cases Friday.
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.
All performances will be canceled for roughly the next two weeks. “Although negative PCR testing allowed us to move safely forward with last night’s performance of Aladdin at The New Amsterdam Theatre, additional breakthrough COVID-19 cases were detected within the company today,” the production said in a statment. “Because the wellness and safety of our guests, cast, and crew remain our top priority, we feel the prudent decision is to cancel performances starting tonight, Friday, October 1st through Sunday, October 10th. Our next planned performance is Tuesday, October 12th at 7pm.”
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 media 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.”