TWISTED – The Musical

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

10/11/2015 - 14/11/2015

Production Details

The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier 

Music Theatre Hotshots present a classic tale…. With a Twist!

Dionysos, producers of cabaret (The Red Chair, 2012 – Q Theatre; If I Only Had a Heart, 2014 – The Basement) and Hotspot – Auckland’s monthly cabaretnight, is a music theatre production company with a strong focus on quality and facilitating unique locally produced, professional musical theatre experiences, are proud to present the New Zealand premiere of Twisted – The Musical!

Twisted is the untold story of Aladdin that will make you see the 1992 film in a very different light. 

Join misunderstood Royal Vizier Ja’far defeat the city’s most-wanted criminal… Aladdin! Assisted by the free-spirited Princess, Ja’far must find a magical lamp and save the kingdom from opposing Pi’xar.

A twisted retelling of the classic animated story that will have you rolling in the aisles and Walt spinning in his grave. Twisted includes all of your favorite Aladdin characters and gives them slightly new personalities. Twisted is intelligent, lively and just outright hilarious! Although incredibly funny it also tells a heartfelt story that will make your heart melt.

Twisted features new comer Adam Spedding (Director), Andy Manning as Musical Director (Tim Bray Productions, 2015 Short+Sweet Cabaret: Best MD) and a cast including Hotspot regular Nomi Cohen (ATC’s Lysistrata; 2015 Short+Sweet Cabaret: Best Performer, Judges Choice & People’s Choice), Edwin Beats (Fractious Tash: Not Psycho; 2015 Short+Sweet Cabaret: Best Wordsmith) and busy new comer Hadley Taylor as ‘Aladdin’ (James Wallace Emergent Artist 2015).

Dionysos actively enables energetic local music theatre practitioners to perform, create, and develop professionally. This year alone we have introduced Auckland to 28 new original works and almost as many new performers (3 more will be introduced at Hotspot, 9:30 pm, October 22 at The Basement).

This is the first time Twisted has ever been performed outside the USA, and the first time Dionysos presents a full-length book musical. Aaron Tindell (Dionysos founder, director, co-producer) arts administrator for a school as well as part-time executive director of CCMT by day and Brendan Talbot (co-producer) business owner/ manager of an industrial supply company are passionate advocates for providing opportunities for exciting and talented New Zealand music theatre practitioners. Both Aaron and Brendan give of their time for free to this exciting endeavor!

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland City 
10th – 14th November 2015
@ 8pm -5 Shows Only! 
Tickets: $25 Adult, $22.50 Concession 
Show duration:  150 minutes including interval 

Ja’far: Brady Peeti
Aladdin: Hadley Taylor
Princess: Kate Castle
Achmed/ Book Keeper/Royal Visier/ Orphan: Edwin Beats
Captain of the Guard/ Achmeds Henchman/ Scar: Jamie Sinclair
Sherrezade/ Market Place/ Orphan: Lana MacFarlane
Baker/ Sultan/ Genie/ Speedy Merchant: Jaden McLeod
Achmeds Henchman 3 /Dream a Little Harder Male/ Guard/ Gastone: Bernie Voice
Monkey/ Hook/ Market Place: Devon Webb
Bird/ Pregnant Woman/ Cruella / Market Place: Tharina Bouwer
Belle/ Slave/ Achmeds Henchman 2/ Ursula: Nomi Cohen
Dream a Little Harder Female/ Slave/ Maleficent/ Guard: Rach Adams

Assistant Musical Director: Amy Hsu
Technical Director: Dale Henderson
Costumes: Nikola Spedding, Marlise Hughes, Toni Henderson, Matthew Roderick, Trina Huges
Props: Celia Talbot
Stage Manager: Katherine Te Hau
Assistant Stage Manager: Lucy Caccioppoli
Sound Design: Khalid Parkar
Sound Operator:
Lighting Design: Dale Henderson
Lighting Operator:

Andy Manning: Conductor
Amy Hsu: Keys 1
Megan Teh: Keys 2
Jessie Booth: Guitar/Bass
Tim Stanton: Drums
Ben Lin: Cello
Robert Drage: Cello
Oliver Smith: Violin
Ben Sinclair: Reeds
Zyia-Li Teh: Reeds 

Theatre , Musical ,

A Whole New Story

Review by James Wenley 14th Nov 2015

I’ve always liked Jafar. His sleek robes, his slimy voice, his talking pet parrot. This might be part of the reason that it wasn’t the VHS of Aladdin, but its direct-to-video sequel Return of Jafar, that was played to destruction in childhood. Jafar is a straight up badass, one of Disney’s greatest villains.

In telling “the untold story of a Royal Vizier”, Twisted is a musical parody of both Aladdin, and the 2000s revisionist phenomena to revisit classic villains and turn them into goodies (which arguably reached its nadir with Disney’s own Maleficent). In an opening sequence ripped not from Aladdin, but Beauty and the Beast, Ja’far (Brady Peeti) enters reading Wicked by Gregory Maguire. So that deals with that: yes, this is exactly like Wicked, now sit back and enjoy. [More


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Saved by passion and potent talent

Review by Dione Joseph 11th Nov 2015

No it’s not Tangled. It’s TWISTED. Yes, it’s a musical but it’s based loosely on WICKED. Yes, it’s a prequel to Aladdin but it’s also a parody on Disney animations AND the multi-million dollar war between Pixar and ‘the magic kingdom’.

If that’s not enough, it also boasts a liberal smattering of characters from not just your childhood Disney favourites (think of the TV show Once Upon a Time) but also The Shining and Casablanca.

It’s a lot to pack into two hours but the ambitious team at Dionysos Productions give the work every ounce of enthusiasm and commitment they possess. The result is a light-hearted smorgasbord of bawdy jokes, rippling pastiche and plenty of Disney parodies to keep fans entertained. 

At its core TWISTED does have a very clear central character: the Grand Vizier Ja’far. Not unlike the Wicked Witch of the West, he too has a story to share and Starkid Productions created this work to present their unrivalled commitment to deconstructing one of the world’s favourite Disney films: Aladdin

As a youthful, idealistic servant of the people, Ja’far is an advocate of kindness, tolerance and equality; he is unequivocally loved by all. Life seems to have been good to him, the beautiful Scheherazade becomes his wife and he is given the opportunity to make change at a macro level by joining the court as an assistant to Grand Vizier.

Soon after, however, he loses his beloved to the lecherous desires of the Sultan and discovers the corruption of those who wield power. As his illusions about those in leadership begin to disintegrate he realises that his ambitions for change will be thwarted at every turn. The premise is the same as WICKED and the nod is not even that subtle, as Ja’far enters with a copy of the script in his arm – but as a narrative it just isn’t enough.

Ja’far is the most well-developed character but only in contrast to the rather plastic versions of the originals who surround him. Jasmine is a naïve self-centred sheltered princess (intentionally so but it does get bland very quickly) and the young cocky Aladdin with big dreams is reduced to a self-aggrandizing nympho whose main aim is to get a woman to ‘take her clothes off’.

Similarly, the Sultan is a sexually dysfunctional reactive fool easily swayed and the majority of the population of this land trade in polarities as easily as they do in women. Prince Achmed (only a minor character in the original film) and Scheherazade are marginally better but the main issue with the entire narrative is that it is superficial.

Yes, that is the whole point, but pointing out flaws (“Why is everyone in the kingdom white?” the ensemble sing: yes really, why??) doesn’t make them disappear.

This isn’t a Bart Baker parody. This isn’t an epic rap battle either. It’s more like a You-tube version of a half-baked attempt to deconstruct a Disney movie. The problem (and as with Disney films in general this rarely gets as much press as it should) is that the premise of the original film is laced with dubious cultural appropriations. A film, albeit an animation (so therefore it’s okay – really??) that trades in stereotypes of concubines, slavery, exotic ‘others’ is perhaps not the best foundation to generate a parody. Especially one in which women are dressed in voluptuous outfits; character names are spelt with Anglicized versions and far away from the Middle East it’s okay to perpetuate rather lazy and factually incorrect notions of other peoples’ culture.

It’s neither smart nor satisfying.

Considering the population demographics of Auckland would a Mulan version be playing in one of our best known independent theatres, let alone be considered an appropriate choice for production? Probably not. So why Aladdin?

One of the other obvious issues is that the genres are blurred in TWISTED. It is exactly that, twisted in and upon itself; parody masquerading as musical theatre while simultaneously reaching for a satirical glossiness. The creatives and cast give a hugely compelling performance and it is impossible to fault the sheer passion and energy of the team.

Brady Peeti does exceptionally well as the morally anguished Ja’far and Lana MacFarlane and Edwin Beats as Scheherazade and Prince Achmed are both strong leads. Despite his bawdy and singular fixation on sex it’s impossible not to like Hadley Taylor’s impersonation of this raunchy street rat and although Princess Jasmine’s character comes to the party a bit late Kate Castle gives a genuine sweetness to a character that mostly comes across as utterly delusional.

In addition, Dale Henderson’s lighting design works perfectly for the rapidly changing scenes and the large team who put together the costumes (Nikola Spedding, Marlise Hughes, Toni Henderson, Matthew Roderick, Tina Huges) have remained faithful to the original Disney version. The choreography is limited, admittedly, by space but Naomi Cohen’s routines while (in some ways) appropriately clichéd, show little innovation. With no set, an excellent if invisible band led by musical director and conductor Andy Manning, Adam Spedding and his team have brought to life Starkid Productions’ vision of TWISTED to audiences in Auckland.

Considering the limitations of the actual script the company gets full marks for passion and garnering together a cast of potent talent.

This will undoubtedly be a deliriously hilarious night for many and potentially the perfect night for a dose nostalgic entertainment – but the question is, at whose expense?


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