Sunday, 1 March 2015

James Monroe Iglehart Makes His 54 Below Solo Debut!

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

I've never been to 54 Below, and I've never wanted to go more than I do right now!  On Monday 4th May Tony Award Winner James Monroe Iglehart will be making his solo debut at Broadway's famous supper club in How the Heck Did I Get Here?

James has star power, we all know that, he brings audiences to their feet every night with his literally show stopping performance of Friend Like Me (aided by Aladdin's incredible ensemble).  He has enough energy to light up Times Square all by himself and a talent for making people laugh.  He's also one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet.

In How the Heck Did I Get Here? James "relives his obsession with being cool, getting girls and becoming a star told through funny childhood stories and songs ranging from R&B, Hip-Hop, Gospel and Broadway (and maybe a country tune!)".  This is your chance to meet the man behind the Genie in a more intimate setting.

If you're in New York on 4th May then you owe it to yourself to go.  It promises to be a fantastic night of music and laughter that you won't forget.

Tickets go on sale to 54 Club Members on March 2nd, 54 Below's Insider mailing list on 5th March and to the general public on 9th March.

Congratulations James!  I wish I could be there!

Broadway News Round Up 31

Brandon O'Neill, Jonathan Schwartz and Brian Gonzales as Kassim, Omar & Babkak, Photo by Adam Jacobs

Since the big Aladdin news this week is the departure of Michael James Scott, Marisha Wallace and Bud Weber and the remainder of the original cast extending their contracts until February 2016, both of which I've already covered in separate posts, this news round up is actually going to be pretty light on Aladdin news!  But that's ok as it was the first week of Tech Rehearsals for the cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame over at the Paper Mill Playhouse so there's plenty to catch up on there!

But first, whilst the big news this week for Aladdin on Broadway has been the remaining principle cast members extending their stay in Agrabah through to February 2016, Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre have released a video of Aladdin's original Kassim, Brandon O'Neill, performing If I Loved You with Laura Griffith and Soliloquy from Carousel which ended today.

After Carousel, Brandon will be taking to the stage again later this year at the Ordway Center in Minnesota in The Pirates of Penzance.  Part of the Center's 30th Anniversary line up the show will run from August 4th till August 16th.  If you can make it, be sure to check it out!

And Aladdin's new Kassim, Steel Burkhardt, will be taking part in Baldwin Wallace at 54 Below on April 11th as he and other alumni join current seniors from Baldwin Wallace's acclaimed Musical Theatre Program at 54 Below.

Aladdin's Khori Petinaud will be making the leap from stage to screen soon.  Not sure where but keep an eye on her Twitter for more details as she is able to announce them!  Congratulations Khori!

Michael James Scott joins the cast of Something Rotten! talking about his first show and, on a scale of 1 to 10, just how rotten he was!

This week has seen the start of Tech Rehearsals at the Paper Mill Playhouse and the show's official press day so there's plenty of great Hunchback news to get through this week.

Let's start small, and by small I mean model size as TheaterMania has posted a picture of a set model for the show.  As you can see it looks very similar to the pictures of the La Jolla Playhouse set, a lot more real than Aladdin's bright colours and fantastical locations, a perfect match for the mood of the piece based on the incredible word of mouth generated by the show's San Diego run.

TheaterMania has also posted pictures of the cast and creative team from the Press Day. met the stars of the show on Press Day.

Broadway World posted two special videos giving an exclusive look behind the scenes as the Hunchback cast rehearsed and exclusive interviews as Richard Ridge met the cast.

And Esmeralda herself, Ciara Renee has taken over the Paper Mill's Instagram account this weekend for lots of behind the scenes peaks as the cast of The Hunchback of Notre Dame begin their Tech Rehearsals so make sure you check that out!! (especially Esmeralda and the Bellettes!)

I must admit, this seems to be a lot more press than the La Jolla run got ahead of its debut last year.  Could it be that after the incredibly strong word of mouth Disney Theatrical may be considering a Broadway run for Hunchback?  Obviously it depends on how well this run goes, but the last musical Disney debuted at the Paper Mill was Newsies and we all know what happened there.  Keep your fingers crossed!!

Finally, Hunchback star Patrick Page is having one of his childhood dreams come true.  Having brought so many Disney characters to life on stage, from Lumiere to Scar and now Frollo, Patrick will this summer be the voice of the Disneyland Parade and Fireworks!  What an incredible honour and achievement!  Congratulations Patrick!

The Hunchback of Notre Dame begins performances at the Paper Mill Playhouse on March 4th and runs through to 5th April with an official opening night on 15th March.

Aladdin Cast Extend Their Contracts & More Cast News

Adam Jacobs, Courtney Reed and James Monroe Iglehart as Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie

As you've no doubt heard this week Disney Theatrical announced the excellent news that Aladdin's leading actors have all renewed their contracts through to 21st February 2016.

That's right, Adam Jacobs (Aladdin), Courtney Reed (Jasmine), James Monroe Iglehart (Genie), Jonathan Freeman (Jafar), Don Darryl Rivera (Iago), Brian Gonzales (Babkak), Jonathan Schwartz (Omar), Clifton Davies (Sultan) and Merwin Foard (Stand By for Jafar & Sultan) are all staying for another year of high adventure in Disney's latest Broadway hit, and so is Steel Burkhardt, who recently joined the cast as Kassim!

Joining the cast are Trevor Dion Nicholas (Stand By for Genie & Babkak) and new Swing Angelo Soriano, who made his Aladdin debut on 5th February.  A big welcome to you both!

Disney haven't announced any additional ensemble casting but when they update their website next week I'll be sure to announce any new additions here.

In addition to welcoming the above new cast members I would also like to apologise and say a belated farewell to Rhea Patterson and Aleks Pevec who both left the show last September and a warm welcome to Amber Owens and Travis Ward-Osborne who joined the ensemble last October!

Salaam Worthy Friends - Aladdin Bids Farewell to Marisha Wallace, Bud Weber & Michael James Scott

Marisha Wallace backstage at Aladdin
Bud Weber at Aladdin's Opening Night, Photo from Playbill Vault

Michael James Scott at Aladdin's Opening Night, Photo from Broadway World by Linda Lenzi

Today three more original cast members will take their final bow at the New Amsterdam Theatre as the bid the kingdom of Agrabah and Broadway's Aladdin goodbye.

As well as being part of Aladdin's incredible ensemble you may have been lucky enough to see Bud and Marisha in two of the show's main roles as Bud was one of Aladdin's understudies and Marisha was an understudy for Babkak (which I really wish I could have seen).

Michael James Scott was one of the show's amazing Stand Bys and has been on as both Genie and Babkak.  I had the pleasure of seeing Michael as Babkak last year and he gave a fantastic performance.

All three will be back on Broadway later this month as they join Aladdin's
 Director/Choreographer Casey Nicholaw to help him bring a little Something Rotten! to the stage.

I just want to wish all three the very best of luck and say thank you for all that they have done for the show.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Broadway News Round Up 30

Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann
A shorter news round up this week (probably because I've finally got back to doing these weekly!) but still plenty of updates from the cast of Disney's latest Broadway blockbuster Aladdin!
The big news of the week was, of course, James Monroe Iglehart's appearance on Gotham.  I'm trying to avoid spoilers (the show is still on hiatus here until next month) but it sounds like it was a fantastic episode, so congratulations once again James on your DCU debut!
You can also check out an awesome behind the scenes picture of James with series star Ben McKenzie on JMI's Instagram.

We all know that the cast of Aladdin love to support good causes and this week Princess Jasmine herself, Courtney Reed, announced that she is taking part in Cycle for Survival to help raise money for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to support lifesaving research into rare cancers.  I've donated and you can to right here.  Courtney's nearly reached her goal already so let's help push her past it!  The event takes place on 8th March.

And Aladdin is also showing his support for a good cause this week as Adam Jacobs' donated to Charitable Act, a non-profit foundation that gives underprivileged children the opportunity to learn and enjoy theatre arts at summer camps.  You can find out more information and donate yourself by clicking on the link.
With Aladdin now a smash hit on Broadway, Director/Choreographer Casey Nicholaw is keeping busy with two new shows.  Tuck Everlasting (featuring Aladdin's original Omar Andrew Keenan-Bolger) concluded it's premiere run this afternoon but Playbill is reporting that the creative team is aiming for a Broadway future.  Meanwhile, Broadway World has photo's from the press day of Something Rotten! (featuring Aladdin's own Michael James Scott, Marisha Wallace and Bud Weber) which is set to open on Broadway next month.
It's not long now!  On Friday the cast and creative team of The Hunchback of Notre Dame finished re-staging the show for their upcoming run at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse and yesterday they completed their first full run through of the revised show.  How much has been changed since last year's US Premiere Production at the La Jolla Playhouse?  I've no idea but we'll have the answers soon enough and I can't wait to finally see it!

You can check out the new trailer below;

No new footage in the trailer but here's a few more production images from the La Jolla run of the show to help tide you over until the show opens at the Paper Mill next month (make sure you click the link for more images in part 2 as well).

Until next time!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Broadway News Round Up 29

Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Deen Van Meer

Here we go again!  Welcome to the latest news round up for Disney's Aladdin on Broadway! (with a little bit of The Hunchback of Notre Dame thrown in for good measure, but more on that later!)

Firstly, the biggest Aladdin news for this update comes not from Disney Theatrical but from Disney Home Entertainment as they finally announced the American release of Aladdin on Diamond Edition blu-ray on 6th October!

Now I know I live in the UK so shouldn't get too excited over this (we were lucky enough to get the blu-ray of Aladdin way back in April 2013) but I'm just thinking about the special features this new edition could have.  The UK edition carried over most of the old Platinum Edition's special features (meaning it's still got some of the best special features of any Disney blu-ray) but since then Aladdin has opened on Broadway.  When The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning was released on DVD it included a short special feature taking you behind the scenes of the Broadway show, so I'm just crossing my fingers and wishing for something similar for Aladdin.  Maybe something even bigger, looking at how the film went from Howard Ashman's concept to the film version then returned to some of Howard's ideas for stage.  Disney aren't exactly known for their amazing special features these days but I'm going to keep on wishing!

Oh, and "A whole new world in a whole new way"?  I've definitely heard that somewhere before... Looks like Home Entertainment have been stealing some of Theatrical's taglines!

Back on the stage, Aladdin had a very special edition to its ensemble earlier this month as Jimmy Kimmel Live's Guillermo joined the cast for one night only!

Aladdin's incredible director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw was honoured at the end of last month by the Broadway Dreams Foundation and the ArtsBridge Foundation with a special musical journey through his career so far at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre as they celebrated his contribution to American Musical Theatre.  Broadway World was on hand to photograph the event.  Congratulations Casey!!

I'm sorry to announce that later this month Aladdin will be losing three more original cast members.  Director/Choreographer Casey Nicholaw is stealing his own cast as Michael James Scott, Marisha Wallace and Bud Weber are all departing Agrabah to join his new show Something Rotten!  Rehearsals for the new show started last Monday so all three are currently doing double duty (Something Rotten! rehearsals in the day, Aladdin performances at night) in preparation for their new show's opening next month.  I'll do a full post nearer the time but for now I just want to say a massive thank you to all three for their time in Aladdin and congratulations and good luck for their new show.

And you can catch Marisha Wallace on the latest episode of 5 Minute Call with Cessalee Stovall talking about her road to Broadway and doing three shows with Casey Nicholaw (including Aladdin naturally!)

Something Rotten! isn't Casey's only new production this season.  Tuck Everlasting is currently running at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta and Playbill has your first look at the show, including Aladdin's original Omar, Andrew Keenan-Bolger.

And speaking of original cast members, Broadway's original Kassim, Brandon O'Neill has made a triumphant return home to Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre where he is starring as Billy Bigelow in Roger and Hammerstein's Carousel (running now through March 1st).  Below you can see him talk about his time in Aladdin and what it's like coming home to The 5th as well as the newly released sizzlereel for the show;

It's great to see Brandon back on stage again and you can read reviews of the show here and here.  Welcome home Brandon.

Here's a new video from Disney Theatrical's YouTube channel which shows Alan Menken, James Monroe Iglehart and Adam Jacobs recording the fantastic Genie Medley from Aladdin's Broadway Cast Recording.

Michael James Scott took part in #SoBlessed Live at 54 Below last weekend.  More information about the performance can be found at Broadway World.

And last but certainly not least, Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed did a fun little video with Pop Sugar for Valentine's Day telling you how to achieve a fairy tale love just like Aladdin and Jasmine's.  It's a lot of fun :o)

After an incredibly successful run at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse Hunchback's creative team wisely decided not to mess with success so when the cast was announced for the upcoming production at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse it was virtually identical to last year's acclaimed production.

Michael Arden, Ciara Renee, Patrick Page, Andrew Samonsky and Erik Liberman once again lead the cast as Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Frollo, Phoebus and Clopin respectively.  And returning in the ensemble are Julian Decker, Mary Joe Duggan, Ian Patrick Gibb, Beth Kirkpatrick, Samantha Massell, Neal Mayer, Nora Menken, William Michals, Anise Ritchie, Vincent Rodriguez III and Richard Ruiz.  Joining them for this new production are Joseph J. Simeone, Jeremy Stolle and Dashaun Young and the Continuo Arts Symphonic Choir.
Before starting rehearsals at the Paper Mill several cast members stopped by Broadway Sessions earlier this month.
Congratulations are in order as La Jolla's production of Hunchback took home 3 Craig Noel Awards last week as Alexander Dodge and Howell Binkley picked up the awards for Outstanding Scenic Design and Outstanding Lighting Design respectively whilst Patrick Page took home the award for Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical for his portrayal of Frollo.  Congratulations everyone!

And not to be outdone by Aladdin and Jasmine, the Belles of Notre Dame put together a little something for Valentine's Day;

Tickets for the Paper Mill production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame are on sale now, and don't forget if you're a member of Disney's D23 you can have the VIP Experience on 15th March!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  I hope your Valentine's Day was a magical whole new world.