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“If we get booed, we’re doing our jobs!” Aladdin’s villains share secrets from the smash hit production

Adam Strong and Angelo Paragoso share the joy of bringing Disney’s Aladdin to Manchester

The beloved Disney animated film, Aladdin, has been transformed into a spectacular stage show and The Palace Theatre are hosting it for fans until July.

Aladdin and his magic carpet floated into the Palace Theatre last week and the show is already sweeping audiences off their feet.

Aladdin at the Palace Theatre

We caught up with Adam Strong who plays antagonist Jafar and Angelo Paragoso who plays his feathery friend Lago, to see what they love about Manchester and how the show differs from the film which has been a favourite in family homes on VHS and then DVD (Remember them?!) before Disney Plus came along.

The devilish duo seem to love being a little mean on stage and enjoy the audience’s reactions to the pair.

Saying “If we get booed, we’re doing our jobs!”

In the animated film, Iago is Jafar’s pet parrot, however, he takes on a less avian role in the stage show.

Angelo says he is a human with parrot-like qualities “I’m taking on bits of the parrot to create something that might resemble a parrot on stage, but I look more like a Christmas bauble!”

Well, it wouldn’t be a Disney show without a little sparkle.

The characters are not the only thing that’s changed, the show promises plenty more songs than the original.

Adam says “We have a lot more songs, there are around 17 songs in the show vs the 5 in the film” The music, by Alan Menken, has already won lots of awards and it’s easy to see why.

With the show being in Manchester for so long, we wanted to know what the cast has been getting up to off-stage.

Interviews with Adam Strong and Angelo Paragoso

Even with their busy schedules Adam and Angelo have been admiring the other great theatre venues and shows that are on in the City.

Adam said “I love Manchester! It is one of my favourite cities to come to on tour, the restaurants, the nightlife, the shopping, also the theatres here!”

Naming The Opera House, The Royal Exchange, HOME and the Bridgewater Hall as some of his favourite haunts while he calls The Palace home for the next few months.

How does it feel to be part of a show that is so loved?

Adam: There’s no feeling like it, personally for me, it was my favourite animation growing up and I was obsessed with the character Jafar, and it just is such a privilege to carry on the legacy of the other people who have played this role before.

Angelo: I never thought I’d be in a Disney show, so it is a huge privilege to be part of one and be playing such a fun character every day

The character of Iago is a bird in the animated film, is it the same in the show?

Angelo: I am a human with parrot-like qualities is how I would describe it. They (the writers and directors) decided they wanted humans rather than puppets like they’ve done before in other Disney shows, so I’m taking on bits of the parrot to create something that might resemble a parrot on stage, but I look more like a Christmas bauble!

Adam, how do you feel playing a villain and how does the audience react to you?

Adam: I love playing the villain, there’s so much scope and so much fun, it’s really exciting to see the reactions. If we get booed, we’re doing our jobs! That is not just from the children who come to watch, It’s from the adults too.

It’s so fun playing the villain, we have such a blast together. It’s so far removed from who I am as a person, so it’s nice to be able to play that character. Plus, he’s not all bad! Smirk and evil laugh.

How does the show differ from the film?

Adam: In the animation, there is the tiger, parrot and monkey. We’ve got Iago in human form and rather than the monkey we actually have Aladdin’s three best friends, who were penned for the Disney animation initially but were swapped to the monkey at the last moment.

We have a lot more songs, there are around 17 songs in the show vs 5 in the film, Jasmine has a beautiful solo, It’s an amazing score, award-winning! Alan Menken has won lots of awards for this show alone.

What do you think of Manchester so far, what’s your favourite thing about the city?

Adam: I love Manchester! It is one of my favourite cities to come to on tour, with the restaurants, the nightlife, and the shopping.

Angelo: The culture, the diversity. It’s so vibrant! The first time I was here, I was here for 8 months and I loved every minute. 

Adam: Also theatres here! You have got The Opera House, The Lowry, The Royal Exchange, The Palace, HOME, Bridgewater Hall, we’re trying to see as much as we can while we’re here and support all the other shows that are on at the same time.

On our days off we’re trying to support other theatres. So it’s nice to have other things that we can see rather than just performing every night.

And to see that theatre is vibrant in the city is so great.

What is your favourite part of the show?

Adam: It’s not a part I’m in, but “A Whole New World”, seeing (Gavin and Desmonda) on that magic carpet every night, their voices and watching how magical it is, everything is in perfect harmony.  Angelo is friends with the original Jasmine in the animation and she’s coming to Manchester on, the 1st of July!

Angelo: Babkak, Omar and Kassim sing a song together, I’m always in the wings watching it, they’re acting, they’re singing, they’re dancing! I just Love it!

Disney’s Aladdin is at the Palace Theatre until 7th July and you can book tickets here

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