Long a leader in theatre education, MTI recognizes that students respond best to theatre that is personally relevant. When it became clear that the rapidly growing U.S. population of Spanish-speaking and bilingual students could be better served through musical theatre, MTI and Disney found a starting point with DISNEY'S ALADDIN: DUAL LANGUAGE EDITION - now fully available for licensing.

Disney staff worked with Los Angeles playwright José Cruz González and PSJA North High School in Pharr, Texas, to create a dual-language version of DISNEY'S Aladdin JR. that would be welcoming to Spanish-speaking, English-speaking, and bilingual performers and audiences. Language issues were woven into the story, with translation assistance provided by the "enchanted" animals Rajah, Abu, and Iago, as well as a small chorus of narrating Royal Translators.

This version of the story begins centuries ago, when the royalty of Agrabah speak one language and the citizens another. Communication is impossible without translation, which is controlled by the evil vizier Jafar. When the rebellious princess and a delinquent street rat meet in the marketplace, they find something special in one another, work to transcend the barriers between them, and with a little magic help create a better future for themselves and for Agrabah. The tuneful, Academy Award- winning score - including "A Whole New World / Un mundo ideal" and "Friend Like Me / Un amigo fiel" with lyrics in both languages - will make this musical a crowd pleaser and an educational staple for many years to come.

Viewing students' home languages as an asset rather than an impediment creates a supportive environment where English-language learners can gain a deeper understanding of their own languages and improve their English skills while excelling in other academic areas. According to educator and Bronx Institute visiting fellow Luis O. Reyes, "[L]anguages other than English are a resource, not a problem... [L]anguage is easy to learn when it is sensible, relevant, interesting, belongs to the learner, and is presented to the student through choices. Language becomes hard to learn when it is artificial, dull, broken into pieces, belongs to someone else, and is out of the context of real communication."

Click here for a short documentary on the creation of ALADDIN DUAL-LANGUAGE EDITION

ALADDIN: DUAL LANGUAGE EDITION attempts to make speaking both English and Spanish exciting and relevant to performers and audiences. Since the characters living in the palace speak one language (Spanish) and the characters on the streets speak another (English), yet all performers are needed to sing many of the songs, students will learn dialogue and lyrics in a language not their own. Embodying a character who speaks a different language allows a student to fully live in that language in a way that language drills simply can't replicate.

Additionally, ALADDIN: DUAL LANGUAGE EDITION enables native Spanish speakers to express themselves artistically in their home language, which is still rare in musical theatre. When the show was first performed in Pharr, "the community response was overwhelming," according to Disney Theatrical Group dramaturg and literary manager Ken Cerniglia. "Parents and grandparents who were never even allowed to speak Spanish in school were overcome with emotion in witnessing their native tongue not only tolerated, but celebrated." Being able to speak and sing Spanish in a school production is a unique and empowering experience for native Spanish speakers; it's institutional recognition of the richness of languages and cultures that constitute our communities.

Check out the following sites for more information about bilingual theatre:
Bilingual Foundation of the Arts
Children's Bilingual Theatre
Fables and Frolics
LESTA: Learn English/Spanish Through The Arts
Thalia Spanish Theatre
The Theatre Practice

To learn more about the effect of ALADDIN DUAL-LANGUAGE EDITION, take a look at this Language Magazine article by Kate Sommers-Dawes.

To license ALADDIN DUAL-LANGUAGE EDITION, visit its MTI show page. Discuss ALADDIN DUAL-LANGUAGE EDITION and view production photos on its MTI ShowSpace page.