A whole new world for Hiba in Aladdin
HIBA Elchikhe is living out every little girl's dream.
The British actress gets to dress up as a Disney princess every day in her role as Jasmine in the award-winning Aladdin The Musical.
"I grew up watching the film religiously. I could quote it back to you," she says.
"Jasmine was the princess that looked like me. She was sassy, she wore pants and she wasn't afraid to go out and get what she wanted."
The musical is based on the 1992 animated film, with music by Alan Menken.
The show premiered in Seattle and then played Toronto before debuting on Broadway, where it was nominated for five Tony Awards.
"The musical came out when I was still studying," Hiba says. "I used to listen to the soundtrack and say 'this is amazing'.
"It was definitely on my bucket list of roles I would love to play, but never in a million years did I think that would actually happen. I feel very, very lucky to be able to say this is my first big gig."
After a successful season in Sydney, Aladdin is playing in Melbourne and will premiere in Brisbane in February.
It's been a cultural immersion for Hiba and her American co-star Michael James Scott, who plays the Genie.
They share the stage with an Australian cast helmed by former Hi-5 member Ainsley Melham (Aladdin).
"It's such an amazing opportunity to get to see so many different parts of Australia," Hiba says.
"We've been learning all the lingo. A lot of my friends back home have said my intonations have started to become Australian."
Aladdin The Musical is a visual feast of brightly coloured costumes, sets and special effects including the iconic magic carpet.
"It does take an army to put this show together," Hiba says.
"On my wedding skirt I wear, there are 5000 individual sewn-on beads.
"We have an amazing wardrobe department and there's always someone working on the costumes."
The show has plenty of sing-along moments, thanks to Menken's Oscar-winning film score, plus four new songs written for the stage production.
"Everyone has the songs from the film they know and love, but the new songs give you more of an insight into the characters," Hiba says.
"There's this amazing song in act one called Proud of Your Boy where Aladdin sings to his mum about making her proud.
"Originally Alan Menken wanted it to be in the film but it was cut, so everyone is happy to have that in the musical.
"There's another song Aladdin and Jasmine sing called A Million Miles Away. That's when you see Aladdin and Jasmine connect about their longing to be somewhere else and it's the moment you see them fall in love for the first time."
There are some other key differences between the animated film and the musical. Rajah the tiger is replaced by three handmaidens, Iago the parrot is played by a man and Aladdin is given three friends named Babkak, Omar and Kassim to replace the monkey Abu.
"The friends of Aladdin have a very funny song called High Adventure," Hiba says. "I remember laughing so loudly at it when I saw it for the first time.
"What I love about the show is that it has something for everyone in it.
"I'll go to the stage door and there will be little girls dressed as Jasmine but their dads love it even more."
Disney's Aladdin - The Musical opens at QPAC's Lyric Theatre on February 25, 2018. For more information go to QPAC's website.