A Whole New World
Profile: How did you become involved in the world of musical theatre?
Hiba: I think if you asked my mum she would tell you I was singing from the age of three, putting on shows for everyone at home and thinking that I was a Disney princess. But my love for musical theatre definitely started when I went to The Brit School of Performing Arts. After leaving there at 18 I went to drama school for three years.
Profile: What was it like to land the lead role in such an iconic musical?
Hiba: It’s a cliche, but such a dream come true. I cried so much when I got that phone call and I honestly pinch myself everyday!
Profile: What was the audition process like and how difficult is it to land such a role?
Hiba: I think I had about seven rounds of auditions. I had to sing some songs from the show and read the Jasmine scenes. I auditioned for the Australian production from London. I recorded and sent my final audition to Disney and the original Aladdin creatives in America and then about five weeks later I found out I got the job.
Profile: How does it feel to be living every little girl’s dream of dressing up like a Disney princess every day?
Hiba: It’s crazy. I honestly don’t believe it! Jasmine was the first princess that looked like me, so knowing I’m the first representation of Jasmine for a whole new generation that didn’t grow up with the movie is such an amazing honour, opportunity and responsibility.
Profile: How long did you train for this role and what was that process like?
Hiba: My whole life! No, I’m joking. I had three weeks of rehearsals and it was so much fun. I learnt all of the music first and then did the staging. I mainly worked with Ainsley, who plays Aladdin, and worked on our Jasmine and Aladdin relationship and trying to do the characters justice (it’s great that we get on so well outside of the show too).
Profile: Take us through a typical day when you are on tour with the show?
Hiba: It’s different in every city, but so far in Brisbane, I’ll wake up, go to the gym or for a swim, have breakfast, if it’s a one-show day I’ll do some touristy things/explore the sights or if it’s two I’ll head straight to the theatre.
Profile: What is your your favourite song in the musical?
Hiba: Oooh that’s tricky! It changes all the time. My favourite one that I get to sing has to be A whole new world. It’s such a magical moment in the show! But my favourite song in the show that I don’t sing has to be High Adventure, which is a new song written for the musical. It’s sung by Aladdin’s three friends (Babkak, Omar and Kassim) and it’s an epic number where they storm the place to save Aladdin and it’s so funny!
Profile: What has been your fondest memory on tour so far?
Hiba: There honestly have been so many. But my favourite moment has to be performing the show for Alan Menken (the show’s composer) in Melbourne and basically having a jam session with him after the show where he played some of his iconic Disney songs for the cast and we got to sing along! I was literally living out all my Disney dreams.
Profile: You share the stage with an Australian cast, how have you found that experience?
Hiba: Wonderful! Everyone has made me feel so welcome and the whole cast is incredible. It’s awesome working with an Aussie cast! The ensemble works so hard in the show doing multiple quick changes and dancing insanely well and every single person in the cast and crew is truly world class.
Profile: I have heard the costumes are amazing. What we can expect to see?
Hiba: The costumes are so amazing! There are over 500 beads on my Jasmine wedding skirt and over 500,000 Swarovski crystals used on the show’s costumes. If you want to see endless amounts of sparkle then prepare to be dazzled! Every single costume is beautifully designed for the person wearing it. There aren’t enough words to describe how epic the costumes are.
Profile: How does the stage adaptation compare with the movie?
Hiba: The story is the same that everyone knows and loves but there are a couple of new additions, for example Aladdin has three best friends instead of his monkey side-kick Abu, and Jasmine has her attendants instead of her tiger! People who love the film will leave the musical feeling nostalgic and want to go home and put the soundtrack on to listen to the new songs and people who have never watched the film will leave singing all the songs all the way home.
Profile: What do you do when you are not performing?
Hiba: I love going to the cinema or watching new movies. I also love teaching workshops and seeing new talent. As well as going to museums and exploring each new city I visit.