Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween!

A little Halloween fun Aladdin Broadway style :o)

Adam Kaokept is Iago

Photo by Adam Kaokept
Whilst Don Darryl Rivera is taking a well deserved holiday this week Adam Kaokept has been taking to the New Amsterdam stage this week as Iago!

I'm sure Adam is doing an incredible job as everyone's favourite parrot turned human evil sidekick and if you want to see him as Iago you can still do so tonight and this weekend.

Make some magic Adam!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Bells of Notre Dame Will Ring Tonight!


What a week it's been for the cast and creative team of The Hunchback of Notre Dame!  Sitzprobe on Thursday, invited dress rehearsal last night and the US Premiere tonight as the show officially begins previews at the La Jolla Playhouse!!

This week Michael Arden (Quasimodo) spoke with Gay San Diego about Quasimodo, his path to theatre and about Hunchback in general, calling it "a lot sadder than the original Disney movie and much more of an adult treatment".  He also touches upon Director Scott Schwartz's vision for the piece saying "it's set in 1483, and we're using a lot of techniques that would've been used theatrically in plays of the time ... we use our bodies and furniture to create these worlds".  And I certainly agree with him when he calls Hunchback Alan Menken's greatest score.

The creative team of Alan Menken (composer), Stephen Schwartz (lyricist), Scott Schwartz (director) and Peter Parnell (writer), along with members of the cast, have been doing the rounds with the press this week.  Discussing the show with La Jolla Light and with U-T San Diego.

For all the speculation over the years that Disney considered the Berlin production of Hunchback "too dark" to bring to US audiences, it sounds like this new production could potentially be even darker.  And, if not darker, certainly more complex.  Speaking with U-T San Diego Scott Schwartz says "Something I really believe about this story is, nobody is just one thing ... There are horrific actions in the show, particularly that Frollo takes.  But you see moments of light within him ... there are moments of darkness in all the characters.  Quasimodo, too - there's real violence in Quasimodo."  Speaking with La Jolla Light, Alan Menken agreed, calling the piece "darker and more character-focused than the animated film."

What really excites me is that Scott Schwartz has called Hunchback's incredible score "the central focus and the essential means of the storytelling".  This, combined the show's emphasis on the humanity of the four main characters leads to what Peter Parnell calls "a very nice dynamic ... the largeness and the smallness, that feels like a very interesting place that this musical can live."

I'll admit that after hearing the beautiful Berlin cast recording I was nervous when it was initially announced that this new production would be smaller and more intimate.  I worried that it might not capture the grandness of the score and the beautiful music of the show.  The confirmation that there would be a live choir on stage soon eliminated my fears and with each new article I've been convinced that this is the right direction for the show.  It's new and exciting but at the same time very traditional.  The choir will allow the majesty of the score to soar as it should but the renewed focus on the four principal characters will give the piece a greater intimacy as well.  Personal stories told against an epic backdrop.  Disney may be taking a risk by making the show darker and more intimate but it's one I'm very glad they're taking and one I believe will pay off.

To the cast and creative team and everyone at La Jolla Playhouse, I will you all the very best for tonight's opening.  All your hard work over the last weeks and months (and even years in some cases) has led to this and you deserve every success.  Enjoy it.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame begins tonight at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego and runs through December 14th 2014.  Tickets are available here.  Tickets to D23's VIP Experience on November 11th 2014 are available here. Next year The Hunchback of Notre Dame will play at the Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey from March 4th through April 5th 2015.  Tickets are available here.

Broadway News Round Up 21

Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Tonight another Disney Theatrical production will begin its road to Broadway and I couldn't be more excited!  But more on that in my next post, first here's all the latest news from Broadway's Aladdin!

First up - Playbill reports that tonight at The Lion Theatre in New York two of Aladdin's understudies will be taking centre stage in At This Performance.  Bud Weber (understudy Aladdin) and Lauryn Ciardullo (Jasmine) and fellow understudies will share songs and anecdotes about their experiences.  Good luck guys, sounds like it will be a great night!  Tickets are available at the theatre's box office or through Telecharge (212) 239-6200.

On November 17th Aladdin's Courtney Reed will be taking part in the annual Rockers on Broadway - Teen Idols as Broadway's finest rock the music of the last 50 years to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  More information can be found at Playbill and

Theater Mania are reporting that Aladdin is one of the shows taking part in the 2015's 19th annual  Kids' Night on Broadway.  Presented by the New York Times Kids' Night on Broadway will take place 9-15th January and will allow a young person age 6-18 to see a Broadway show for free when accompanied by a full paying adult (all tickets are sold in pairs).  More details can be found at the official website and tickets go on sale 5th November.  Sounds like a great way to introduce more people to the joy of live theatre.  Other regional theatres, including Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre that staged the world premiere of Aladdin back in 2011, are also taking part.

Broadway World is reporting that Aladdin's Dance Captain Michael Mindlin will be taking part in the BC Beat showcase in New York on Monday 10th November.  BC Beat is a bi-annual choreography showcase, more details can be found at Broadway World.  Good luck to Michael and everyone taking part!

With the movie musical having something of a resurgence in recent years, Sundance TV recently sat down with James Monroe Iglehart to talk about movie musicals and Disney classics.'s latest "Gotta Dance!" video features Aladdin's Donald Jones Jr. who shows off his moves whilst talking about the audition that changed his life.

As a little pre-Halloween treat D23 takes us on a ghost tour of Aladdin's Broadway home, the New Amsterdam Theatre;

And Adam Jacobs preps his dressing room for any trick or treating theatre babies who visit!

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Vacation Alert Update

Don Darryl Rivera as Iago with Jonathan Freeman as Jafar, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Just a quick update - last weekend I posted that Don Darryl Rivera would be on vacation 28-31st October.  Don't actually holiday dates are 27th October to 2nd November.  Sorry for the confusion!  Have a great time Don!

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Song List Revealed!

Normally we don't get the song list of a show until after the first preview, but La Jolla Playhouse have posted a Know Before You Go guide to the show giving us a tantalising first glimpse at Disney's next musical masterpiece.  You can download the full PDF (including a fantastic interview with Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz, Peter Parnell and Scott Schwartz) at the link.  Here are the highlights;

The Cast (in order of appearance)

Erik Liberman as Clopin Trouillefou
Patrick Page as Dom Claude Frollo
Lucas Coleman as Jehan Frollo
Samantha Massell as Florika
William Michals as Father Dupin
Michael Arden as Quasimodo
Andrew Samonsky as Captain Phoebus de Martin
Ian Patrick Gibb as Lieutenant Frederic Charlus
Ciara Renee as Esmeralda
Richard Ruiz as King Louis XI
Beth Kirkpatrick as Madam
Neal Mayer as Saint Aphrodisius

The Congregation (ensemble) includes Lucas Coleman, Ian Patrick Gibb, William Thomas Hodgson, Beth Kirkpatrick, Samantha Massell, Neal Mayer, Nora Menken, William Michals, Anise Ritchie, Vincent Rodriguez III, Richard Ruiz and Brian Smolin

Choral Ensemble - Sacra/Profana

Male Swings - Julian Decker & Christian Villanueva
Female Swing - Mary Joe Duggan

The Creative Team

Book by Peter Parnell
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Directed by Scott Schwartz
Choreographed by Chase Brock
Music Supervisor/Arranger - Michael Kosarin
Music Director - Brent-Alan Huffman
Orchestrator - Michael Starobin
Dance Music Arranger - Rob Berman
Scenic Designer - Alexander Dodge
Costume Designer - Alejo Vietti
Lighting Designer - Howell Binkley
Sound Designer - Garth Owen
Hair & Wig Designer - Charles G. LaPointe
Fight Director - Steve Rankin
Vocal Consultant - Ursula Meyer
Casting Director - Tara Rubin Casting
Local Casting Director - Teresa Sapien
Production Stage Manager - M. William Shiner
Assistant Stage Managers - Becky Fleming & Jennifer Kahn
Producing Director - Judith Richardson
Artistic Director - Shirley Fishman
Production Manger - Audrey Hoo

For the La Jolla Playhouse Christopher Ashley is Artistic Director and Michael S. Rosenberg is Managing Director.

Musical Numbers

Act One
The Bells of Notre Dame - Clopin, Frollo, Jehan, Father Dupin, Congregation
Sanctuary - Frollo, Quasimodo
Out There - Quasimodo
Topsy Turvy - Clopin, Congregation
Rest and Recreation - Phoebus, Frollo
Rhythm of the Tambourine - Esmeralda, Frollo, Phoebus, Quasimodo
God Help the Outcasts - Esmeralda, Congregation
Top of the World - Esmeralda, Quasimodo, Congregation
The Tavern Song (Thai Mol Piyas) - Gypsies, Esmeralda, Frollo
Heaven's Light - Quasimodo
Hellfire - Frollo, Congregation
Esmeralda (Act One Finale) - Company

Act Two
Entr'acte - Choir
Flight into Egypt - Saint Aphrodisius, Quasimodo, Congregation
Rest and Recreation (Reprise) - Phoebus, Quasimodo, Congregation
The Court of Miracles - Clopin, Gypsies
In a Place of Miracles - Phoebus, Esmeralda, Quasimodo, Clopin, Gypsies
Someday - Esmeralda, Phoebus
Made of Stone - Quasimodo, Congregation
Finale Ultimo - Company

And since the Know Before You Go guide includes the set rendering by Alexander Dodge I guess it's safe to share the Broadway World photos from the other day (big thanks to Sotiris2006 for actually saving these!)

It looks like an interesting mix of songs from the film, songs from the original Berlin production, all new songs for this production and even a song that was written for the film but cut.  But even if you recognise the names, don't expect to recognise the lyrics as Stephen Schwartz confirms "in addition to the brand new songs, there are a lot of songs in which there are new lyrics, or parts of the song are restructured."

Indeed this looks to be, much like Aladdin, a complete reimagining of the film for stage.  Whilst Aladdin went back to Howard Ashman's original concept, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is going back to the book.  The guide even states that this production is "Based on the Victor Hugo novel with songs from the Disney film".  Like Aladdin lost Abu, Quasimodo has lost his gargoyles (at least in the sense of the individual characters they were in the film), but whilst Aladdin  uses the latest special effects to bring the magic of the movie to life on stage, the story of Quasimodo will be a much more human take.  Director Scott Schwartz says "My guiding principle for the production is: if they couldn't do it in 1482, we shouldn't be doing it now.  In other words, the physical production is based all on period techniques that have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years.  This is not a technological version of the story.  It's a human one."

Everything I hear about this production just makes me more and more excited to see it!  Next March can't come soon enough!

The Hunchback of Notre Dame begins this Sunday, 26th October, at La Jolla Playhouse.  Tickets are available here.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Broadway News Round Up 20

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Deen Van Meer

Starting this week's update with some incredible news.  Aladdin has once again broken the house record at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre taking $1,614,428.00 in the week ending 12th October.  That's the second time this year that the show has set a new house record!!  Congratulations everyone!!

It's the ensembles turn to shine this week as Aladdin's Bobby Pestka recently did a wide ranging interview with The Broadway Blog that's well worth checking out and Yurel Echezeretta will be taking part in the 6th annual Broadway Can! benefit on 16th November.  This annual concert of Seth Bisen-Hersh songs is being held to support City Harvest for New York's hungry.

Broadway World is reporting that Aladdin will be one of the exhibitors at the 6th annual At This Stage Education Expo at the Minskoff Theatre on Monday 27th October.  Further details can be found here.

And finally, this week Thomas Schumacher, President of Disney Theatrical, sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss everything from The Lion King to Frozen.  In the process he touches on Aladdin and even drops some hints at possible Marvel and Lucasfilm properties that could one day make their way to stage.  If you're a Disney fan or a theatre fan then you owe it to yourself to read this.  It's a fantastic read and offers an incredible insight into Thomas Schumacher and Disney Theatrical.  And on an Aladdin related note - 4 more international productions are in development!!!  I really hope one of them is the rumoured West End production!!

Vacation Alert - Jonathan Freeman will be away from 22nd through 26th October and 8th-9th November.  Merwin Foard will once again be bringing the evil Vizier to life at those performances. 

Vacation Alert - Don Darryl Rivera will be out of the show from 28th-31st October.

Not quite Aladdin related but the Tuacahn Amphitheatre will be presenting 2 Menken musicals and a brand new Disney Revue show as their 2015 Broadway in the Desert season.  Early bird tickets are now on sale for Beauty and the Beast, Sister Act and the all new Disney's When You Wish.  If you've ever seen a show at Tuacahn then you know these will be very special indeed.

Ok, Hunchback time!

It's been a strange week for The Hunchback of Notre Dame news.  The show officially entered tech rehearsals this week and the biggest news came as Broadway World presented a first look at the beautiful set of the show only for the image to disappear almost as soon as it appeared (much like the early character concepts for Aladdin's Seattle run did).  For what it's worth I'll leave the link here in case the image comes back up.  The set looked great.  Very realistic compared to what we're used to from other Disney shows but it really fit Hunchback well.  I wish I had the picture to share with you but I'm sure more official images will be released very soon as the show begins in exactly a week's time!

The Rage has a great article on the show.  It's pages 22-23, and I'm pretty sure this is the first time that the show has officially been called "Broadway-bound" which is incredible news!  It notes that this new production will be very different to Berlin's Der Glockner Von Notre Dame, which was an incredibly large scale production, focusing "much more on the four main characters".  I can't wait to see what they've done with it!

And finally, happy birthday to Esmeralda herself, Ciara Renee!  I hope you have a wonderful day.