Behind the Scenes

ALADDIN – Broadway’s New Musical Comedy

This spring, Disney introduced its latest award-winning hit, ALADDIN Broadway's New Musical Comedy, bringing the magic of Agrabah and its colorful cast of characters to life on stage. Like the movie, the show centers on the love story between Princess Jasmine and 搒treet rat Aladdin, who uses one of his three wishes from lovable and over-the-top Genie to turn himself into a prince worthy of courting the princess. There抯 also the evil Jafar and his sidekick Iago (now a man instead of a bird), Aladdin抯 entourage (a new addition) and a lively ensemble that dances throughout the show. We talked to hair designer Josh Marquette (Kinky Boots, Book of Mormon, The Drowsy Chaperone), who requested that Oribe products be used exclusively backstage, about coming up with the looks for the various characters and production hair supervisor Gary Martori (Mary Poppins, Aida) about what it takes to create them for each performance. 揟here抯 such a wide selection of products for different hair types and styles, so you don抰 ever fall into a rut, Marquette said. 揑t all just works great; everything really impacts the hair.

Josh Marquette
Hair Designer

When designing the looks for each character, how bound were you to their movie portrayals?
Disney really gave me free reign and said, 揧ou can do whatever you want, as long as they look great. I did keep in mind that there would be expectations for what characters would look like, though. I knew I wanted long, gorgeous hair on Jasmine and I had to give a shout-out to her iconic ponytail.

What would you say is the overall look you were going for?
Texture! We have so many different ethnicities in the show, especially since the show takes place in the Middle East, there抯 a lot of texture in the hair. We use a lot of the Oribe mousses to enhance the texture. We use 32 wigs in the show; each night, we wet them down, comb them out and reapply the mousses. Foundation Mist is also great for reactivating the products. For the ensemble members that have straight styles, we use Soft Lacquer to create amazingly sleek hair.

What抯 the most important thing to keep in mind when creating the styles?
The hair has to move and dance beautifully. The Oribe products we use to get the looks have a lot of hold while still allowing movement.

In the movie, Aladdin has straight and梔are we say條uscious locks, but in the show, he has curls. Why did you decide to change that up?
Adam Jacobs, who plays Aladdin, has gorgeous curls, so I wanted to use what he had instead of blowing his hair out; he wouldn抰 have looked as handsome with it straight. They use Curl Shaping Mousse on his hair every day and night. Adam wanted to use gel initially, but he抯 constantly taking his turban on and off, which would kill the style if we used gel. The mousse maintains curls even with all the turban movement.

You also gave Jasmine beautiful curls. How did you achieve those?
1. Prep with Foundation Mist and Soft Lacquer and set on rollers.
2. Pull hair out of the rollers and let it breathe.
3. Work through the hair with hands coated with a little Supershine Moisturizing Cream.
4. Mist on some Shine Light Reflecting Spray.
5. Spray Superfine on any flyaways, if needed, for control by the bangs.

Jasmine抯 ponytail has become one of the most iconic Disney Princess styles. How did you recreate it for the stage?
Her loose, lumpy ponytail looks great in the movie, but its heaviness doesn抰 translate in real life卛t抯 apparently much easier to get shine and movement in animation! I didn抰 want to use back-combing or stuffing to create the lumps, so I had to get a little creative. After blowdrying the hair with Foundation Mist and Royal Blowout, I sewed a wide piece of elastic to the base of the wig and gathered hair around it for the ponytail. I put in tight ponytail holders every few inches to secure the elastic inside the ponytail, then let the elastic loose so it would pull the ponytail into the 搇umps. I spray a little Shine at the end.

There抯 also a lot of fun facial hair in the movie. Did the actors have to grow that out on their own?
We have about 20 pieces of facial hair that we attach to the cast members. For the more natural looks, we use Surfcomber Tousled Texture Mousse; for the more character-driven pieces, we use Soft Lacquer with a flat iron or curling iron to bring out shine and give great hold. We also spray Superfine Strong Hair Spray to give extra staying power.

What other products are being used?
Well, one of the guys brought in his own Maximista during rehearsals, so we added that to the roster! He loves the way it makes his hair appear thicker.

Gary Martori
Production Hair Supervisor

How did you get involved in doing hair for Broadway shows?
I was born and raised in New York City. I did a lot of community theater as a teenager and did the hair. To put myself through hair school part time, I took a job at a brokerage firm on Wall Street. Once I graduated in 1982, I got a job at a salon, but I also kept in touch with all of my contacts from when I did community and regional theater. One of these connections helped me get my first job on a Broadway show, the 1988 production of Meet Me in St. Louis at the Gershwin Theater (I am a New York and California union member). I love the whole atmosphere梩he lights, the sets, the stage door. It抯 still magical to me 27 years later.

What are some of your favorite shows that you抳e worked on?
There have been so many that I loved: the original company of Miss Saigon, the original company of Les Mis閞ables in 1991, Showboat, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, The Nance with Nathan Lane. I抳e been with Disney Theatrical on Broadway for a long time. I started on Aida with my mentor Sonia Rivera and have also done Mary Poppins and Tarzan. Josh hired me to work on Aladdin; we work really well together. I get to implement his vision for every performance and ensure that the looks are as he intended them to be.

How would you describe the hair in Aladdin?
The overall look is very contemporary with a Middle Eastern/Moroccan flair.

How do you care for all the wigs used onstage?
The wigs are human hair, so we try not to wash them every day, but they get touched up all eight shows per week. Some of the really curly wigs get wet down every night, have mousse added and then are left to dry overnight. One of the things I love about the Oribe products is that they抮e really workable, touchable and don抰 leave any residue or build-up. We can抰 use heavy products on the wigs, but they have to look the exact same every day.

We wash Jasmine抯 wigs every other week, but we set her curls with Soft Lacquer every single day. We use a lot of Supershine to keep the hair hydrated and lustrous. Rough Luxury helps to smooth the ends towards the end of the wash cycle. Her hair is my favorite梚t抯 pure princess hair. She抯 like a Breck girl!

How long does it take to get the characters ready for each performance?
Courtney Reed (Jasmine) and Adam come in a half hour before the show starts for hair and makeup. Adam has Curl Shaping Mousse at home, so he often puts it in before coming to the theater and lets it air dry. If it抯 a day with two shows, I just spray his hair with Foundation Mist or water and reapply some product. Jafar gets makeup done for 30 minutes, then it takes 30 minutes to do his hair and facial hair. Most of the girls have three to four wigs each, so we抮e backstage changing them up the whole show.

Do you have a favorite number from the show?
I抎 say Friend Like Me; there抯 so much going on, and we抮e constantly changing up wigs and accessories throughout the song. The audience loves it, which is so exciting. And A Whole New World has that amazing Disney magic.

How would you describe the hair in Aladdin?
While the show is set in a fantasy world, the overall look is very contemporary卋ut still timeless.

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