Māori and Pasifika cast reimagine Disney classic on stage

By Michael Cugley

By Michael Cugley, Te Rito journalism cadet. 

The director of the newest stage production, Alatini, says the three-year-long project is ready to go live.

Alatini, or Aladdin, is a Disney film adapted by Sau e Siva and being brought to the stage at Q Theatre in Auckland.

This reimagining of the classic children’s blockbuster hit will see a Pasifika and Māori twist.

Director Troy Tu’ua says it’s about bringing the voices of Māori and Pasifika to the stage.

“We’ve taken the title and some of the characters from Aladdin and made it our own. We’re making sure we’re telling a story that relates to us, which revolves around love, poverty, success, family and goals.”

Covid delay

Tu’ua says that this is a first for him and the Sau e Siva team in taking a project and making it their own.

“This is the first year we’ve gone out on our own. We’ve always collaborated with someone and we’ve always had someone who has given us a platform or an umbrella to work with under certain barriers or certain rules. This is the first time we get to take it and make it our own.”

The show was compiled together by everyone in the Sau e Siva team, Tu’ua says.

“Our families are all going to come to the show and hopefully they can see themselves in the characters and say 'that’s what I say, all of those things'. It’s about making it relatable for our people and telling our stories the way we tell our stories through music, dance and singing.”

The show has been under way since 2019 but delayed by Covid, with a lot of people within the cast having to leave for an array of circumstances.

Tu’ua attributes the survival and longevity of this project to the people who stayed in the production.

“The young ones keep coming back and that’s important because we started this journey together and they just kept coming back three years later because we want to finish together.”