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Aladdin in Boyle Heights? Dual language musical takes you to a whole new world




Daniel Martinez as Aladdin and Sarah Kennedy as Princess Jasmín in
Daniel Martinez as Aladdin and Sarah Kennedy as Princess Jasmín in "Aladdin, Dual Language Edition" playing at Casa 0101.
Luis Gaudi

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Sound familiar? 

Yes, it's from Disney's Aladdin but, as you can tell, there's a twist. 

In this version Jasmine only speaks Spanish. Aladdin only speaks English...and the rest of Agrabah is lost in translation.

“It’s beautifully interposed the way they include the bilingualism. We have royal translators who kind of translate for the people of the palace and you have sidekicks like Abu and Rajah who also kind of make sure that you’re not lost at sea.”

That explanation courtesy Daniel Martinez. He plays Aladdin in the "Dual language" edition of the tale.  It was adapted in 2005 complete with the Genie and royal advisor Jafar but has only now found its way to L.A. You can catch it at the Casa 0101 theater in Boyle Heights.

Take Two Producer Lori Galarreta recently caught up with the entire cast and crew of the show, starting with Jose Cruz Gonzalez. He's the professor at Cal State L.A. who penned the adaptation. He spoke about the role theater can play in bringing communities together. 

"I've been across this country and I've seen the big cities to little little places, little towns where there's an artist there trying to create art. And that's something that we really need more of today for communities to come together."

Rosa Navarrete as Rajah, Sarah Kennedy as Princess Jasmín, Henry Madrid as the Sultan, and Luis Marquez as Jafar in
Rosa Navarrete as Rajah, Sarah Kennedy as Princess Jasmín, Henry Madrid as the Sultan, and Luis Marquez as Jafar in "Aladdin, Dual Language Edition" playing at Casa 0101 theater.
Luis Gaudi

Casa 0101 is the perfect venue to carry out this sentiment. It was founded 17 years ago by Josefina Lopez, the author of "Real Women have Curves" with the mission to bring arts and theater to the community she grew up in, Boyle Heights.

Gonzalez's adaptation of the Aladdin story strikes a chord with the predominantly Latino community of Boyle Heights. In the dual language edition, the city of Agrabah is suffering through language and cultural divides a theme which, Gonzalez notes, is particularly appropriate in the present.

"In this piece you have one culture, the kingdom speaking only Spanish and then of course you have the common people only speaking English and Jafar is this sort of bad dude who has manipulated that to happen until the Genie arrives and is able to help restore order and balance in these communities and it resonates on so many levels I didn't even imagine 2005 that would have that kind of resonance now seeing it again with the landscape that we are dealing with here in this country today."

Daniel Martinez as Aladdin and Sarah Kennedy as Princess Jasmín in
Daniel Martinez as Aladdin and Sarah Kennedy as Princess Jasmín in "Aladdin, Dual Language Edition" playing at Casa 0101.
Luis Gaudi

Sarah Kennedy plays Princess Jasmin, who is the same headstrong princess we all know, just with her name pronounced slightly different. She spoke about the importance of bringing the arts to communities like Boyle Heights.

"Doing a show like this, in an area such as Boyle Heights where there's a very high population of Latinos, it's really cool because they get to see a show a theatrical production in their language and so it means a little bit more and we're kind of showing the youth and people in this community that you know, theater is for everybody and this story and the magic is for everybody."

Lewis Powell III as the Genie in Aladdin, Dual Language Edition at Casa 0101 theater.
Lewis Powell III as the Genie in Aladdin, Dual Language Edition at Casa 0101 theater.
Luis Gaudi

 The added layer of two languages and the inability for the characters to understand one another echoes a lot of the feelings our nation is experiencing. This is a point touched on by Gonzalez and something Kennedy highlighted as well, including the notion of using the arts as an outlet. 

"The theme of this show with class divide and culture divide with the different languages, it's very very relevant right now, especially with the news of the recent election. Art is such a great way to channel whatever frustrations and anger you have about the current situation of the world and so just being able to be here with such a diverse cast and to perform with them every weekend is such a blessing. We have such an amazing opportunity here in Los Angeles specifically it's so so diverse and so to share the stage with people from so many different walks of life and to be able to tell one story that's universal to everybody is probably the greatest blessing."

"Aladdin, Dual Language Edition" will be playing at Casa 0101 through Sunday March 5, for more information, click here.

To hear the full segment, click the blue play button above.