WARNING: This article contains heavy SPOILERS.
I've been a fan of Starkid Productions since I first stumbled across A Very Potter Musical on YouTube years ago, so when their newest original parody musical, Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier, was announced, I was beyond excited. Twisted turns Starkid’s satirical eye onto Disney as it gives Aladdin’s villain, Jafar, the same treatment that Wicked gave to the Wicked Witch of the West. Funded through Kickstarter and living proof that a strong fanbase is all a theatre troop needs to survive, Twisted is a hilarious yet heartfelt look at a tale we all know and love.
The show is staged at the Greenhouse Theatre, in a small, intimate space that feels even more intimate because it is filled with dedicated Starkid fans, many of whom waited in line for hours to get first dibs at the general admission seats. The show opens with a side-splitting musical number reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast’s “Belle” but with a few more f-bombs, and we meet Jafar, played by talented Starkid founding member Dylan Saunders. This incarnation of the well-known Disney villain is simply trying to fix the socioeconomic inequality in the Magic Kingdom but is blamed at every turn for the incompetence of others—the line “This is all your fault, Jafar” quickly becomes a running joke.
Meanwhile, Aladdin and Jasmine are re-introduced to us as a thieving, sex-obsessed douchebag and a spoiled, naïve but well-intentioned princess, respectively. Classic Aladdin lines such as “you’re only in trouble if you get caught” are referenced and given new, hilarious meanings in the script, to the delight of Disney fans in the audience.
Prince Achmed, a minor character in the original movie, declares war on the kingdom after Jasmine sets her tiger on him, and Jafar, despairing for his future and the future of the kingdom, takes a walk down memory lane, where we learn that in his youth, he was a bright-eyed, optimistic politician determined to help the people by following the golden rule, but his ideas were shot down by the heartless and greedy Council. Then he meets Scheherazade, an incarnation of the storyteller from One Thousand and One Nights, with whom he shares a tender, romantic song (“I Want to Know Your Story,” one of the best in the show). The two marry but are tragically separated when the Sultan takes Scheherazade for his own wife. Present-day Jafar hopes that he can find the Djinn’s magic lamp so that he might bring back Scheherazade from the dead and save the kingdom.
Act II opens with a musical number by Prince Achmed (who insists that he is not simply a “throwaway joke”), followed by a parody of “A Whole New World,” in which the alleged hidden sexual messages in Disney films are referenced and mocked. Meanwhile, Jafar, in a fantastic number similar to Wicked’s “Defying Gravity,” converses with other Disney villains like Ursula and Scar and decides that going down in history as “twisted” but doing something good is better than living a useless life, which appears to be one of the central messages of the show.
The show closes with Jasmine coming into her own by rejecting Aladdin’s sexual advances, solving the kingdom’s socioeconomic problems by declaring everyone a princess, and wishing Jafar, now a djinn, every happiness—which, yes, means he is reunited with Scheherazade at last.
A delightful parody of Wicked, Aladdin, and Disney alike, Twisted is best described as a gentle satire of children’s films that also holds sweet and heartfelt messages about the nature of love, social justice, and storytelling. As gut-bustlingly funny as it is touching, Twisted is a worthy addition to the repertoire of Starkid shows.
Unfortunately, Twisted closed July 26, and Starkid has not yet confirmed whether or not the show will be uploaded to YouTube. For up-to-date information, follow @TeamStarKid on Twitter.