Backstage at Aladdin

We ain’t never had friends like the four swings—Mike Cannon, Lauryn Ciardullo, Michael Mindlin and Jennifer Rias—who showed us the cave of wonders behind the scenes at this spectacular show.

Photography by Matthew Murphy for Dance Spirit

Aladdin’s backstage area is huge, which is rare for Broadway theaters. In some shows, things are so cramped that actors have to run up or down a flight of stairs to get to the other side of the stage mid-show.

Most of the scenery hangs in the wings and backstage—there are 20 tons of it up there!

Every prop and set piece has a specific home backstage, which is taped off and labeled, so the actors always know exactly where to find what they need.

Swings are responsible for covering multiple parts, which means Aladdin’s swings spend a lot of time in their dressing rooms studying show notes on their laptops or iPads. Each dressing room also has a flat-screen TV with a feed from the stage, so they can follow along with the show as it’s happening.

Jennifer and Lauryn get a few days a week to rehearse onstage before the show. They go through each dance track they’ll perform that night, and any others they want to rehearse. “It’s basically, ‘OK, you be this role; I’ll be everyone else,’ ” Jennifer says.

Jennifer and Lauryn have to tape their toes before every performance. “Our shoes aren’t broken in,” Lauryn says. “Nothing gets fully broken in when you’re a swing.”

108 of the show’s costume changes happen in less than one minute, and 58 of them take under 30 seconds. Occasionally, characters are able to “underdress”—layering multiple costumes—to speed up their changes.

A single pair of men’s pants for the “Friend Like Me” number includes 1,428 Swarovski crystals.

Some of the elaborate headdresses from the show

352 people in 24 different costume shops worked on the construction of the costumes for Aladdin. They used fabric from Morocco, Turkey, India, Uzbekistan, Guatemala, France, Italy, Germany and China. There are 1,225 different fabrics in the show’s costumes, and 712 different styles of beads.

About Alison Feller

Alison Feller is a frequent contributor to Dance Spirit.
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