Friday, 27 March 2020

Michael James Scott Instagram Take Over TODAY!

Who's up for an Instagram take over? Aladdin's resident Genie, Michael James Scott is hosting a fierce take over of Disney Theatrical's official Instagram account TODAY!

Taking place at 4:30PM EST, Michael will be going live with special guest Ciara Renee (Hunchback of Notre Dame's Esmeralda and Broadway's new Elsa). In these dark times this is bound to be a bright spot of Disney magic so don't miss it!

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

James Monroe Iglehart Guests On Angelique Roche's Creative Quarantine

If you're looking for some brightness in this dark time, the chances are you've already turned to James Monroe Iglehart. From his search for soup on Instagram to his Disney Medley on Good Morning America, James has been keeping people laughing even as Broadway's lights are dark.

So make sure you check out Angelique Roche's Creative Quarantine podcast tonight for a live streamed conversation with the man behind the magic at 3PM EST/12PM PST

You can listen along at

Friday, 20 March 2020

Don Darryl Rivera Host's 5th Avenue's First Cloud Edition of Friday's at The 5th

Let's be honest, we could all use some good news and a laugh at the moment. So why not sign up for The 5th Avenue's Friday at the 5th?

With the theatre closed The 5th are taking their student program online with a series of webinars on Zoom. And the first is a workshop and discussion with Aladdin's Don Darryl Rivera - Make 'Em Laugh! Musical Comic Relief in Uncertain Times.

This free online workshop and discussion takes place TODAY but you might still have time to sign up at The 5th's website. As they say, "our favorite shows have a remarkable way of bringing up important issues while never forgetting that humor and joy are a crucial part of the human experience. How have musicals brightened your day? Who are your favorite musical theater sidekicks? What's feeding YOUR musical theater spirit these days?" After playing Broadway's Iago to hilarious perfection for six years (yes, happy sixth anniversary today Aladdin) DDR is the perfect guy to discuss those questions and their answers.

So join DDR and the 5th for a Q&A and "tech-facilitated group hug" this afternoon at 4PM PST!


If you missed it live you can watch the webinar right here on The 5th Avenue's YouTube channel!

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Remaining Aladdin Tour Dates Cancelled Due to COVID-19

Following Thursday's announcement that the Austin leg of the Aladdin tour was being postponed it has now been confirmed that both the San Antonio and Kansas City runs have also been postponed.

Whilst I cannot find the official announcement for the San Antonio postponement, San Antonio Theater's independent guide is listing the production as cancelled. For Kansas City, Broadway in KC has issued the following statement:

"Due to the growing concern over COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, Broadway in KC will be postponing all performances of Disney's Aladdin (April 15-26) until further notice.

PLEASE HOLD ON TO YOUR TICKETS AS WE WORK TO RESCHEDULE THIS ENGAGEMENT. We are navigating an unprecedented situation in real time, and ask for your patience as we work to bring Disney's Aladdin back to Kansas City as quickly as possible. We will be in touch as soon as possible with more information on the status of this event.

Thank you for your patience and your continued support. For updates, visit"

Whilst both Austin and Kansas City state that they are working to bring Aladdin back as quickly as possible it will most likely NOT be this current production. Reggie De Leon posted on Instagram that "the Aladdin tour unexpectedly played its last performance on Thursday … Love you all, and stay safe everyone!!!"

The first National Tour, which began in Chicago in 2017, was set to conclude it's three year run in Kansas City with a newly configured tour set to launch in fall next year. Best guess (and it is just a guess) is that when Aladdin comes to Austin and Kansas City it will be as part of this new tour.

Korie, Jonah, Kaena, Reggie, Jonathan, Jerald, Zach, Ben, Colt, and everyone involved in bringing this magical show to life these last three years, thank you so much. I'm so sorry it ended in this way, but the magic and joy you have brought to millions is priceless. If I know anything, it's that with Aladdin it's never truly goodbye so I hope to see you all in Agrabah again some day. Thank you for all the high adventures, I wish you all a magical future wherever your paths may lead.

Korie Lee Blossey as Genie with the cast of Aladdin, Photo by Deen van Meer

Johan Ho'okano and Kaena Kekoa as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Deen van Meer
Zach Bencal, Ben Chavez, Jonah Ho'okano and Colt Prattes as Babkak, Omar, Aladdin and Kassim,
Photo by Deen van Meer

Merwin Foard, Aladdin's Original Standby, Passes Away

Merwin Foard as Jafar (pictured with Don Darryl Rivera as Iago)

It was with great sadness that I learnt this week of the passing of Merwin Foard, who passed away on Monday aged 59.

A Charlotte native, Foard once told the Charlotte Observer "I've never had a normal job." Instead his job was bringing music and joy to millions around the world. Even if you've never seen him on stage, you've almost certainly heard his voice. Foard lent his impressive vocals to the ensembles of almost a dozen of Disney's animated features from Beauty and the Beast to Frozen Fever and, most notably, performed the singing voice for Aladdin's father Cassim in Aladdin and the King of Thieves.

Whether on tour or on Broadway, the stage was his home and Merwin appeared in shows  ranging from Les Miserables to Anne, The Sound of Music to The Addams Family. In 2012 he was the focus of the documentary The Standbys, highlighting the demanding, and little known, world of standbys and understudies on Broadway.

His relationship with Disney Theatrical goes right back to the beginning, appearing in the original ensemble of Beauty and the Beast and as the original Pilot in The Little Mermaid before taking over the role of Chef Louis. Aladdin was Merwin's final Broadway production. As part of the original cast he was Standby for both Jafar and Sultan. I was lucky enough to see him perform as Sultan in 2015, something I'd wanted to see since learning he was Cassim's singing voice, and he was spectacular.

Even as he returned home to Charlotte to seek treatment for liver disease, Merwin continued to perform. His final performance was another Disney production, as Joseph Pulitzer in North Carolina Theater's production of Newsies.

And, no matter how busy he was on stage, Merwin never forgot his roots. Even when working on Broadway he would find time to visit Charlotte Christian School, his alma mater, to talk to the students there about musical theatre and voice acting.

Rest in peace Merwin, thank you for sharing your gifts with the world.

Salaam Worthy Friend - Arielle Jacobs Takes Final Bow as Jasmine

Arielle Jacobs as Princess Jasmine

It's always sad when someone comes to the end of their run, but it's much more so when that run is cut short. Arielle was scheduled to take her final bow next weekend, presumably alongside her original Aladdin, Ainsley Melham, who was due to return to the show this month. Due to the shutdown of Broadway following the outbreak of COVID-19 Arielle played her final performance as Broadway's Princess Jasmine on Wednesday, March 11.

As Arielle said herself, "I didn't know it was my last show and now it's done."

Just hearing that my heart breaks for her. This isn't the ending she deserved.

But, I want this post to be a thank you and a celebration. Arielle has been part of the Aladdin family for four incredible years. After an international search, Arielle was chosen to originate the role of Jasmine for the Australian production of Aladdin. Her casting was first announced in a heart warming video of her and her brother Adam, Broadway's original Aladdin, surprising their parents with the news as they sang A Whole New World together.

After winning the hearts of audiences across Australia in 2016, Arielle joined the Broadway production of Aladdin in 2018 and it wasn't long before she was sharing the stage again with her original Australian co-stars Ainsley Melham and Michael James Scott.

It's been an incredible journey and, whilst this isn't the ending anyone imagined, I just want to say thank you for four magical years and all that you have given to the role and to the show. I wish you all the best for Between the Lines and whatever the future holds. And, who knows, with Aladdin it's never goodbye, it's always until we meet again. So maybe one day you'll get the final bow you deserve.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Broadway Performances Suspended, Austin Tour Postphoned

From the official Facebook page;

"Under the direction of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and for the health and well-being of our theatregoers, cast and crew, Broadway performances of Aladdin have been suspended from March 12 to April 12. For Broadway ticket refund information, please visit"

The refund page advises that all affected tickets will be refunded at the original point of purchase. Please follow the link for further details.

The refund page also advised that the Austin, Texas engagement of the North American Tour has been postponed. The Texas Performing Arts site advises:

"In further response to the growing concerns over COVID-19 (coronavirus), The University of Texas at Austin has decided to postpone events at its largest campus venues, including Bass Concert Hall, for the immediate future. As result, Texas Performing Arts will postpone all remaining performances of Disney's Aladdin occurring the evenings of March 12 through March 22, 2020 following this decision.

If you are a ticket holder, please hold on to your tickets as we work to bring Disney's Aladdin back to Austin. We will be in touch in the next 7-14 days with more information on the status of this event.

We appreciate the leadership of university and public officials and will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves to ensure the health and well-being of our audience, staff, cast and crew before anything else.

When we are ale to resume performances, we look forward to welcoming you back into a clean and safe gathering space for our community to enjoy the shared experience of seeing stories unfold live on stage.

Thank you for your patience and continued support."

As an Aladdin fan I feel sad that Arielle Jacobs will now no longer get to play her final performance (scheduled for next weekend) and reunite with her original Aladdin, Ainsley Melham, one last time. And for those in Austin who, depending on how this develops, may not get to see the original tour. That said, this is unquestionably the right call as the safety of the cast, crew, and audience must always come first. Stay safe everyone, Agrabah will be back before you know it.