Friday, 15 September 2017

Next Stop - Minneapolis!

Anthony Murphy as Genie & the Cast of Aladdin National Tour, Photo by Deen Van Meer
Wish granted!!

After an incredible run in Chicago, Adam Jacobs, Anthony Murphy, Isabelle McCalla and the incredible touring cast of Disney's Aladdin have flown their magic carpet to Minneapolis for the second stop on their first national tour!

The show opens tonight and runs though October 8th at the Orpheum Theatre.

Make some magic everyone! Here's wishing you an incredible run!

You can get tickets right here!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Aladdin Begins Filming


Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Naomi Scott (Jasmine), Will Smith (Genie) and Marwan Kenzari (Jafar) on their first day on set for Guy Ritchie's Aladdin
Exciting news from Disney this week as production officially began on the live action adaptation of Aladdin on Wednesday and to celebrate Will Smith (Genie) posted the very first selfie from the London set!

It's not even been two months since the first casting announcements at D23 this summer but additional casting information has been coming in fast these last few weeks and the cast is now officially complete!

We already know that Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott and Will Smith are playing our heroes Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie, but every great hero needs fantastic villains and Aladdin has found them in Marwan Kenzari's Jafar and Numan Acar's Hakim!

Completing the principal cast are Navid Negahban as the Sultan, Nasim Pedrad as Dalia (Princess Jasmine's handmaiden and confidante) and Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders (a suitor for Princess Jasmine from Skanland).

First impressions? I'm super excited! I said this after D23 and I'll say it again now - I love that Disney have cast relatively unknowns rather than big names for this because that shows they've been cast as they truly are the best people for the roles rather than just for their box office draw.

Also - I think this is going to be a very different Aladdin to either the animated original or the musical.  Disney aren't playing it safe with this and that's great.  As much as I loved this year's Beauty and the Beast it was arguably too similar to the animated classic, it added some wonderful touches, I loved the way the castle crumbled as the petals fell, but ultimately it invited too many direct comparisons that it could never live up to (and yes, I fully recognise that nostalgia does play a part in that).  A more direct adaptation may be the easier and safer option but it would mean the film would likely always be in the shadow of the original.  By doing its own thing, by being unique, Aladdin will succeed or fail on its own merits just as it did on stage.  It may not be as safe but it has a much better shot at being something very special rather than just a good adaptation of a superior original.

So what do the new castings tell us?  Marwan Kenzari as Jafar is much younger that the character is traditionally portrayed which suggests that the villainous vizier may be a more active role in this version and a more physical match for Aladdin.  This is interesting as Aladdin normally has to rely on his wits to defeat Jafar (of course at this point Jafar is normally an all powerful sorcerer/giant snake).  I'm sure that will still be the case but I definitely wouldn't be surprised to see a more personal throw down between the two first in this movie!

Numan Acar's Hakim is probably the most revealing casting that's been announced so far.  Described as both Jafar's right-hand man and the head of the palace guards Hakim effectively replaces both Iago and Razoul.  This, along with the creation of Jasmine's attendant Dalia, suggests that, like with the musical, the animals are out.  Though it is surprising that they went with a new character rather than just making fan favourite Iago human as they do on stage.  Combining the roles of Iago and Razoul also suggests a greater corruption within the palace guards this time around with ((at least) Hakim knowing Jafar is plotting directly against the Sultan.

Nasim Pedrad's Dalia will presumably fulfil the same role as her attendants in the musical - giving Jasmine someone to talk with and confide in in the absence of Rajah, though likely with a larger presence in the story.

Gotta admit, whilst it's now pretty much a certainty that the animals are out, I do hope they make an exception for Abu.  Jasmine has Dalia and Jafar has Hakim, since Babkak, Omar and Kassim haven't been cast Aladdin needs a friend and someone to interact with before he meets Genie.

I'm not sure there's much to read into the other castings yet.  Navid Negahban's Sultan rounds out the original classic characters and Billy Magnussen's Prince Anders seems likely to fulfil a similar role as Prince Achmed did in the original.  Of course I'm sure Disney and Guy Ritchie have some surprises in store for us all.  As long as they stay true to the heart of the characters and story then I'm sure everything will turn out just great.

And speaking of the heart of the piece. Alan Menken announced at D23 that he was working with the Tony Award winning songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land & Dear Evan Hansen) to create new songs for this new version of Aladdin and thanks to the Oh My Disney report we now know they'll be creating 2 all new songs for movie to go along with the classic Menken, Ashman and Rice tunes from the original.  I can't wait to hear who the new songs are for!  I'm guessing a new song for Genie and either a solo for Jasmine or a new duet for Aladdin and Jasmine.

Now, Beauty and the Beast got 3 new songs so I'm wishing with all my might that Proud of Your Boy makes the cut this time!  Long shot?  Maybe, but Aladdin is all about wishes coming true.

I'm sure I'll be writing much more about the movie real soon now that production has begun and they're officially making magic!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Aladdin Grants Final Wishes in Chicago

Adam Jacobs, Anthony Murphy and the cast of Aladdin National Tour, Photo by Deen Van Meer

They say all good things must come to an end and after an incredible six month run the first leg of Aladdin's National Tour is coming to a close this weekend!

If you live in the windy city and still haven't caught the show then make sure you head over to the Cadillac Palace Theatre this weekend as Adam Jacobs, Anthony Murphy, Isabelle McCalla and all of this incredible cast will be bringing the house down and audiences to their feet for three final wish fulfilling shows this weekend!  And you can still get tickets right here!

Make some magic this weekend everyone!  I hope you've had a fantastic run!

Next stop - Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre starting Friday September 15th!  Tickets are available here.






Sunday, 3 September 2017

IARA Awards 2017


Last night was the annual International Achievement Recognition Awards (IARA) and Aladdin's own Ethan Le Phong, who is one of the few people to have featured in both the West End and Broadway productions of the show, was nominated as Best Emerging Actor 2017!

I would just like to say a (belated) congratulations to all the nominees and to winner Olisa Odele on this fantastic achievement!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Aladdin Celebrates 500 Performances in the West End!


What a cake!!

Last night Aladdin celebrated it's 500th performance in London's West End.  And to mark the magical occasion they had a cake worthy of a Sultan!

Congratulations to all the cast and crew of this incredible show on reaching this amazing milestone.  I hope the cake tasted as good as it looks!  Here's to one thousand (and one)!!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Brandon O'Neill Returns to Broadway


I posted this on Twitter at the start of the month but it definitely deserves its own post - Brandon O'Neill is back on Broadway!

For this month only (through to August 27th) Brandon has joined the ensemble of Alan Menken's new musical, A Bronx Tale!

Tickets are available at the show's official website so if you're in NYC this month then make sure you catch Brandon whilst you can!

Don Darryl Rivera Nominated for Gregory Award


Last year Don Darryl Rivera took a short break from Aladdin to return to Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre as Sancho in Man of La Mancha, now I'm thrilled to announce that he's been nominated for a Gregory Award for his role in that production!

You can see a short peak at Don Darryl's performance below


 
 
DDR, I'm so happy for you and so proud of this incredible achievement!  Fingers crossed for you buddy!
 
The Gregory Awards takes place on Monday 23rd October 2017 so make sure you send everyone's favourite evil sidekick all your best wishes between now and then!