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Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier
Twisted
Written by Matt Lang
Nick Lang
Eric Kahn Gale
Directed by Brian Holden
Music by A. J. Holmes
Cast Dylan Saunders
Rachael Soglin
Jeff Blim
Meredith Stepien
Joe Walker
Nick Gage
Jim Povolo
Lauren Lopez
Jaime Lyn Beatty
Denise Donovan
Robert Manion
Alex Paul

Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier is a musical with music by A.J. Holmes, lyrics by Kaley McMahon, and book by Matt Lang, Nick Lang, and Eric Kahn Gale.

The musical parodies the 1992 Disney film Aladdin, and The Walt Disney Company in general, telling the story from the point of view of Ja'far, the Royal Vizier. It has several nods & homages to the musical Wicked, which similarly retells a popular story from the villain's point of view.

Twisted opened in Chicago's Greenhouse Theatre on July 4th and closed on July 28th as part of a limited run. The group put the entire musical up on YouTube on November 27, 2013. It was produced by StarKid Productions and directed by Brian Holden. The musical's cast recordingdebuted at No. 63 on the American iTunes Top 100 albums chart.

Synopsis Edit

Act I Edit

The play opens with Sherrezade talking about the Magic Kingdom, one that prospered because of the two D's, devotion and duty. Ja'far, the Royal Vizier, walks through the kingdom while conversing with the villagers ("Dream a Little Harder"). He is constantly harassed by the villagers, who blame him for all the kingdoms problems despite his attempts to solve the kingdom's socio-economic inequality. The Captain of the Guard arrives and informs Ja'far of a thief terrorizing the populace. Several of his own guards were killed in pursuit of him when he stole a loaf of bread. However, Ja'far has to focus on Prince Achmed who is coming from the land of Pikzaar to extend the trade contract between their two kingdoms to keep the peace. The Captain reveals that the same thief who stole the loaf of bread, Aladdin, humiliated the Prince earlier that day in town. Worried, Ja'far rushes back to the palace in order to check on the Prince's breakfast with the Princess. Aladdin then appears, talking about his life in which he simply takes whatever he wants, regardless of other people's needs or consequences. ("I Steal Everything").

Ja'far returns to the palace but is greeted by an angry Prince Achmed, upon whom the Princess had siced her pet tiger. Insulted, Prince Achmed declares war on the Magic Kingdom. As Ja'far berates the Princess for her actions and carelessness, the Princess longs for freedom ("Everything and More").

To come up with a way to avoid war, Ja'far gathers his assistant viziers but discovers the department as been disbanded and its members killed. Angry at the Sultan's choice to execute such talented people, Ja'far ransacks the room. Amidst the chaos, Ja'far finds a golden necklace ("Sands of Time"). In a flashback, years ago Ja'far is loved by the village and teaches them lessons on how to be kind to one another by treating others as they wish to be treated. ("The Golden Rule"). As the new Assistant Royal Vizier, Ja'far heads to the palace and bumps into the Royal Vizier, where he discovers the Royal Vizier and his court are corrupt and only care about money. ("The Golden Rule (Reprise)").

Though disheartened at the amount of corruption within the palace, Ja'far then meets Sherrezade, a storyteller and palace entertainer. Sherrezade tells Ja'far of the story of the Tiger Head Cave and shows him her half of a golden scarab necklace, which when combined with the other half will reveal the location of the hidden Tiger Head Cave. Though Ja'far is a man of facts and science, he is charmed by Sherrezade's wisdom and beauty. As Ja'far and Sherrezade get to know each other, they fall in love and marry ("A Thousand And One Nights"). Several years later, Ja'far continues to struggle against the corruption and incompetence of the palace before Sherrezade announces that she is pregnant. Ja'far is overjoyed, especially since the couple had been trying for a long time to conceive. Suddenly, a guard informs Ja'far that his request to meet with the Sultan has been granted and he is to report to the palace immediately.

When Ja'far takes Sherrezade with him to his meeting with the Sultan, the Sultan falls in love with Sherrezade and claims her as his wife. Ja'far refuses and is beaten by the guards. Sherrezade reminds Ja'far that he will be a great Vizier someday and to never stop believing. She gives him her scarab necklace and vows that they will be reunited once more before she is taken away to the Sultan's harem. Back in the present, Ja'far mourns over losing Sherrezade, first to the Sultan and later to death. Despondent, Ja'far decides to seek out the Tiger Head Cave and the wish granting Djinn that dwells within to change fate ("If I Believed").

The Captain suddenly arrives and informs Ja'far that the Princess has run away. The Princess meets Aladdin and becomes attracted to his lack of concern for royal power and his freedom, while remaining oblivious to his sexual advances. He then talks about his past, and how he recently became an orphan ("Orphaned At 33"). Before they can kiss, they are then caught by the royal guards, who throw Aladdin in prison and take the Princess home.

Meanwhile, Ja'far retrieves the other half of the golden scarab from a corrupt merchant. He bails Aladdin out of jail to go to the Tiger Head Cave and retrieve the Djinn's lamp, during which Aladdin reveals him true intentions: he doesn't love the Princess, he just wants to sleep with her. The Princess, Aladdin, and Ja'far all reflect on what they want most: a happy ending ("Happy Ending"). As Aladdin exits the Tiger Head Cave, he decides to take the Djinn's lamp for himself.

Act II Edit

Prince Achmed returns to his kingdom to commiserate over his humiliation at the hands of the Princess. He is further embarrassed when his guards see the scars on his butt from the tiger attack and assume he had sex with a tiger, earning him the nickname "tiger fucker". Achmed prepares his army and despairs that he will only be remembered as a "throwaway joke" despite his soldiers insisting that they care about him and that he is special ("No One Remembers Achmed"). It is heavily implied that Achmed has feelings for the Princess and he decides to destroy her kingdom in pursuit of her.

Back in the Magic Kingdom, Ja'far and the Princess have a heart-to-heart, during which Ja'far warns her about Aladdin and how people like him are only interested in one thing. Ja'far tries to teach the Princess responsibility, but she insists she could run the kingdom already. When asked how she would fix the socio-economic inequality, she declares that everyone should be a princess, so everyone would be happy and treated with respect, but Ja'far dismisses the idea, saying she will learn how that is simply a dream. The Captain interrupts them and tells Ja'far about a parade led by a mysterious visiting prince taking place unexpectedly in the market and Ja'far speculates that it could be Aladdin. As they leave, Aladdin visits the Princess, who sees through his disguise immediately and happily embraces him. He momentarily breaks the fourth wall to tell the audience how he plans to get the Princess into bed with him - by planting not so subtle subliminal messages in their conversation. Aladdin takes the Princess on a magic carpet ride where he tries to convince her to "Take Off Your Clothes", but is unsuccessful. The Princess, thinking that Aladdin's wealth and power could be what the kingdom needs to be safe from Prince Achmed, asks him to marry her, and he tentatively agrees.

Ja'far consults with the Sultan, who confirms that Aladdin will marry the Princess and he will bring his armies to defend them from Prince Achmed's forces. Ja'far tries to expose Aladdin, but Aladdin tricks everyone into thinking Ja'far is a sorcerer. Ja'far escapes and manages to take the lamp. However, Ja'far feels guilty for betraying his Sultan, but knows that he simply cannot stand by as the people of his kingdom suffer. Suddenly, several villains from Sherrezade's tales appear, to share their stories with Ja'far and how those stories have been twisted to the point where they are made as the villains ("Twisted"). Ja'far then accepts that he has to take the "twisted" path, and decides to do the right thing even if it means being remembered as a villain.

When Prince Achmed's forces arrive, the Princess intercepts them and prepares to introduce Aladdin to defend them, but he is nowhere to be seen. Ja'far then appears and uses his first wish to make himself the Sultan and the second to make himself a powerful sorcerer. With his newfound powers, Ja'far is able to repel the majority of Achmed's army. During the battle, Aladdin tries to get the Princess to have sex with him, but she refuses. When Ja'far arrives, Aladdin takes the Princess hostage and reveals a darker, more sinister personality. This alternate persona killed Aladdin's parents when they wanted him to move out and get a job. Ja'far begs for Aladdin to spare the Princess and realizes that the Princess is actually his daughter – the Sultan being unable to father a child and Sherrezade having been pregnant when she was taken from him. Aladdin agrees to release the Princess in exchange for the lamp, but before Ja'far hands it over, he uses his final wish to free the Djinn and take its place in the lamp, becoming a Djinn himself.

Aladdin flees in terror as Ja'far revels in his new abilities. Ja'far reaffirms his loyalty to the Princess and hands her the lamp, believing her youth and passion make her the only one who can truly use the lamp's power to its fullest potential. The Princess is unsure if she can rule the kingdom and doesn't know what to do without Ja'far's guidance, but he assures her that she has the power to lead and that she doesn't need him anymore ("The Power In Me"). The Princess uses her wishes to bring a peaceful end to the war with Pikzaar and that the kingdom would have a Sultan that would make it the happiest place on Earth once again. Finally, she wishes that Ja'far would not have to go, but he sadly tells her that there are some things he cannot grant. So, she wishes for Ja'far's every happiness and he and the lamp return to the Tiger Head Cave to live out the rest of his days within the lamp. Two of the Princess' servants arrive with the Sultan's final declaration before his death, naming the Princess the new ruler of the Magic Kingdom while the Captain reveals the discovery of Ali Baba's lost treasure. Just as Achmed's troops arrive in the throne room, the Princess offers to buy the entirety of Pikzaar with Ali Baba's treasure in exchange for sending his best artisans and craftsman to bring back "the 2-D's", and Achmed agrees. For her next act, the Princess declares that everyone is a princess as the kingdom celebrates.

Ja'far, now trapped within the lamp forever miserably resigns himself to his fate, but is suddenly greeted by Sherrezade. Reunited as a result of the Princess' last wish, Ja'far is overjoyed and Sherrezade decides to stay with Ja'far in the lamp forever. Because the lamp exists outside time and space, Sherrezade reveals that the Princess brought about the third golden age within the Magic Kingdom and followed the Golden Rule by making everyone a princess. Additionally, Ja'far learns that Aladdin became old and fat, and sells second-hand goods until he is killed by a thief for a loaf of bread at 55. Ja'far asks how their story ends, to which Sherrezade replies that it doesn't and they kiss ("Finale/A Thousand And One Nights Reprise").

Cast and characters Edit

Actor/Actress Character
Dylan Saunders Ja'far
Rachael Soglin Princess
Jeff Blim Aladdin
Meredith Stepien Sherrezade
Joe Walker Prince Achmed

The Royal Vizier

Nick Gage The Sultan

The Djinn
Thief
Scar

Jim Povolo Captain of The Royal Guard
Jaime Lyn Beatty Sea Witch
Lauren Lopez Monkey

Maleficent

Denise Donovan Bird
Robert Manion Gaston

Ensemble

Alex Paul Ensemble

Besides Dylan Saunders and Rachael Soglin, every actor also played various characters as part of the ensemble.

Musical numbers Edit

Act I
  • "Dream a Little Harder" – Ja'far and Ensemble
  • "I Steal Everything" – Aladdin and Ensemble
  • "Everything and More" – Princess
  • "Sands of Time" – Ja'far
  • "Golden Rule" – Ja'far and Ensemble
  • "Golden Rule (Reprise)" – Ensemble
  • "A Thousand and One Nights" - Sherrezade and Ja'far
  • "If I Believed" – Ja'far
  • "Orphaned at 33" – Aladdin
  • "Happy Ending" – Ja'far, Princess and Aladdin
Act II
  • "No One Remembers Achmed" – Prince Achmed and Ensemble
  • "Take off Your Clothes" – Aladdin and Princess
  • "Twisted" - Ja'far, Sea Witch, and Ensemble
  • "The Power in Me" - Princess and Ja'far
  • "A Thousand and One Nights (Reprise)" - Ensemble

Development Edit

Twisted was funded entirely via a Kickstarter campaign launched by creators Matt Lang, Nick Lang, and Eric Kahn Gale. The campaign opened with a fundraising goal of $35,000 and ended up raising $142,564.

Productions Edit

The musical was performed July 4–28, 2013, at the Greenhouse Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. The group put the entire musical up on YouTube on November 27, 2013. On March 17, 2014, the show was performed abridged in two sold-out concerts at 54 Below, with composer A.J. Holmes playing Ja'far and Andrea Ross playing the Princess.

Recording Edit

A cast recording of the production was released in November 2013 through iTunes. The production also generated an EP of bonus studio recordings and demos, Twisted: Twisted, which was produced by Andrew Fox, Michael Hart, and Stacks of Wax Productions, and featured Andrea Ross, Britney Coleman, Carlos Valdes, and Cluster.

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