Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Ring Bells, Bang the Drums! Aladdin is Going on Tour!!


If you can't make it to New York then the magic carpet is coming to you!

Disney Theatrical today announced the North American Tour of Aladdin!  The first stop on this magic carpet ride is a 12 week engagement in Chicago at the Cadillac Palace Theatre from April 11 to July 2 2017 with future venues still to be announced.

Disney Theatrical's Thomas Schumacher announced the tour saying "We've had the privilege of entertaining more than one million people in New York City with Casey Nicholaw's glorious production.  I am delighted that audiences in Chicago and throughout North America will soon have the opportunity to experience Aladdin in their own back yards."

"Aladdin will be the fourth new production we've launched in Chicago in 16 years.  Chicago's canny audiences, its theatrical infrastructure and its stunning theatres make it a peerless town for creating new productions.  We are thrilled to return with Aladdin."

Lou Raizin, President of Broadway in Chicago, added "We are excited Chicago will be the first North American city outside of New York to see Aladdin."

Group bookings (for 15 people or more) are now on sale and you can find more details at the show's official website http://www.aladdinthemusical.com/tour where you can also sign up for email updates.

Call me sentimental but I really hope that Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre is one of the stops on the tour!

Friday, 22 January 2016

The Bells of Notre Dame Ring Once More!


Is it too soon to call something album of the year?  I don't care, I'm calling it!  This is the best album you will hear this year!  The Hunchback of Notre Dame Cast Recording is now on sale!

Glorious! Epic! Beautiful! Powerful! Emotional! I could go on but you get the idea.  If you buy one thing this weekend make it this album.  I promise you won't regret it!

I've waited years for an English recording of this incredible show and it doesn't disappoint! It moved me to tears and sent shivers down my spine, a powerful record of this incredible piece of theatre.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Aladdin Musical News 2016


Hello and welcome to the first Aladdin musical news post of 2016! (Last week's 2015 round up totally doesn't count!)

With this being a new year and Aladdin soaring to international success I figured it was time to make a few changes to the way I've done things before and make these posts a bit more organised than they've been in the past... or at least try to!

Aladdin Broadway - Show News

First up, show news!  Any news about the show, like the recent GMA sing off with the cast of The Lion King or any cast changes/contract extensions, will be featured here.

So let's start on some fantastic news!  Aladdin rang in the New Year by breaking the New Amsterdam house record for the 11th time, taking $2,398,110.00 and beating the previous record, set only the week before, by over $300,000!  Aladdin's record breaking run made it the 3rd highest-grossing show of 2015!  Massive congratulations to the cast, creative team and everyone at the New Amsterdam Theatre who bring this magical show to life!  What an incredible way to start the year!


And New Year, new cast member!  Please give a warm Agrabah welcome to Giuseppe Bausilio who joined the cast on 6th January!!  Welcome to the show Guiseppe, I wish you a fantastic run!

As well as looking forward, New Year is also a time to look back and reflect on the year that was.  And that's exactly what Disney Theatrical did with this video of their Best Moments of 2015;




Aladdin Broadway - Cast News

This section will feature everyone's favourite citizens of Agrabah!  The amazingly talented cast of Broadway's Aladdin!  Here you'll find links to interviews, news about upcoming performances and maybe even a few videos!

Adam Jacobs sang the National Anthem at the Brooklyn Nets V. Boston Celtics game earlier this month.  Sadly it's not turned up on YouTube yet but I'll keep looking!  Congratulations Adam!

Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

At the end of last year Courtney Reed was interviewed for Forbes about being a Disney Princess and a role model for the next generation.

Think I missed this last year - James Monroe Iglehart appeared on the Shock and Awesome podcast to discuss development of Genie for Broadway and his comic book obsession!

Clifton Davis was recently photographed by Brent Dundore as part of his Broadway Legacy series and next month will have his new film released, Prayer Never Fails.  You can see the trailer for it below;



Aladdin's Rodney Ingram recently appeared on NBC news in a feature on Latino success on Broadway.

Aladdin's Nathan Lucrezio has released tribute video to Michael Flatley showcasing his incredible dancing skills!



As someone with two left feet I wish I could move like that!  Absolutely amazing!

And if you need any more reasons to love this totally crazy, but totally amazing, cast then just check out these pictures and videos from Courtney's Instagram showing just when the cast get up to in their rehearsal breaks!  Here and here!

Aladdin Broadway - Creative Team News

Want to know what Aladdin's incredible creative team did next?  Well this is the section for you.  Expect lots of Alan Menken updates to dominate this section!

Speaking of Alan Menken - you are watching ABC's Galavant, right?  If not then check it out!  It's hilarious!!  A weekly dose of Menken/Slater music can't help but make you smile!

And Alan was also Lin-Manuel Miranda's special guest for the first ever digital #Ham4Ham performance!  You can check out their brilliant Little Mermaid medley below;



On Tuesday 19th January the Metropolitan Room will be host to Gone to Soon - Now and Forever an evening of Howard Ashman celebrating the life and music of the musical genius who helped inspire generations.  You can read more about the event and purchase tickets here.

Hot off the success of Aladdin in 2014 and  Something Rotten! last year, Casey Nicholaw is bringing Tuck Everlasting to Broadway this Spring!  Tuck also reunites Casey with his original Omar, Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Newsies, Submissions Only), who starred in the successful Atlanta pilot last year.  Previews are due to begin 31st March with Opening Night set for 26th April.  If his previous shows are anything to go by then this will be a hit!

Aladdin Broadway - Old Friends

They may no longer be with the show, but they'll always be in our hearts.  This section is for news and updates on those who have left Agrabah behind for new adventures.

Brian Gonzales, James Monroe Iglehart, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Adam Jacobs and Brandon O'Neill in 5th Avenue's Aladdin, Photo by Chris Bennion

Aladdin's original Kassim, Brandon O'Neill was nominated as Favorite Actor in a Musical by Twin Cities Theater Blogger Awards for his role in the Ordway Centre's production of The Pirates of Penzance!  And the Ordway's production of Pirates won the award for Favorite Musical!!  Congratulations to all involved!

Seattle's original Omar, Andrew Keenan-Bolger's novel 'Jack & Louisa' is out now in paperback!  Written with his Submissions Only partner Kate Wetherhead, 'Jack & Louisa' is described as "A show-stopping series about life in the spotlight".  It sounds like a real fun read!  And, as mentioned above, Andrew will be returning to Broadway this year in Casey Nicholaw's Tuck Everlasting!

Genie & Babkak's former Stand By Michael James Scott is currently starring in Casey Nicholaw's latest smash, Something Rotten!, and took some time out to talk with Broadway Box about why he loves the show and why Casey Nicholaw is his Broadway Genie!

Last week original Aladdin cast member Marisha Wallace and Nick Rashad Burroughs sold out their 54 Below show Baptized by Broadway!  Due to the overwhelming response Marisha's even hinted that they could do another show!  Congratulations both!!

Aladdin International

After becoming "the surprise hit of the season" on Broadway Aladdin has continued to soar to a whole new world of success.  Last year saw productions open in Tokyo and Hamburg and this year will see new productions opening in London and Sydney with more still to be announced!  This section is all about the international productions of the show.  And I'll admit right now that it'll probably have a pretty heavy London bias as I can't wait to see that show!!

The Wall Street Journal this week posted an interesting piece on how Disney Theatrical is subtly tweaking the international productions of Aladdin to appeal to their national audiences (like renaming Kassim to Kasser in Germany as nothing rhymes with Kassim!)

You can check out footage from the Tokyo production right here;



The Hamburg production;



And finally, some interviews and footage from Hamburg's Opening Night last month;



London's Aladdin, Dean John-Wilson, made What's On Stage's list of "11 faces to look out for in 2016"!  Congratulations Dean!

With Aladdin due to open in London in a few short months, London Theatre Direct took a look at some little known facts about the animated classic and the Broadway sensation.  You can read Part 1 and Part 2 right here.

Other Disney Stuff!

And finally this section.  With the cast album coming up next week (so hyped!) I'm expecting this section to be mostly about The Hunchback of Notre Dame for now, but we'll just see what happens in the future.  After all, I'm sure Disney Theatrical have lots of exciting projects coming up and there's a live action Beauty and the Beast movie coming next year.

Hunchback's Esmeralda and upcoming Legends of Tomorrow star Ciara Renee has started her own blog which you can read right here!

And now for something very special.  Last weekend saw the curtain fall for the final time on Disney's Californian Adventure's Aladdin: A Musical SpectacularThe Orange County Register was there to talk with fans as the magic carpet soared away for the last time.  This is one of those shows I always wanted to see.  It was one of the reasons I wanted to go to the original Disneyland one day.  My friend posted this to my Facebook page this week (they know me so well!) so now I'm going to leave you with the full last ever performance of Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular!


Thursday, 14 January 2016

Paper Mill's Hunchback Wins Big at Broadway World Awards!

Michael Arden & Ciara Renee as Quasimodo & Esmeralda in Paper Mill's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Photo by Matthew Murphy

It's been quite a day for The Hunchback of Notre Dame!  As well as seeing six preview tracks released from next week's cast recording, The Paper Mill Playhouse's production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is celebrating 3 wins from Broadway World's New Jersey Awards including the award for best musical theatre production!!!

Best Actor in a Musical Theatre Production - Michael Arden (Quasimodo)
Best Director in a Musical Theatre Production - Scott Schwartz
Best Musical Theatre Production - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Paper Mill Playhouse)

Massive congratulations to Michael, Scott and everyone who helped to bring this fantastic production to life!!

Listen to Glorious Previews from the Hunchback Cast Album


We're just over a week away from the release of The Hunchback of Notre Dame's Studio Cast Recording and if you've pre-ordered the album digitally then the chances are that you've already heard the fabulous opening 'Bells of Notre Dame', 'Top of the World' and Ciara Renee's beautiful rendition of 'God Help the Outcasts'.  I believe US readers may also have received 'Topsy Turvy, Pt. 1' as well.

Well, now Disney have opened the marketing floodgates and unleashed a wave of previews in anticipation of the albums release!

Buzzfeed has an exclusive first listen to Michael Arden's breath taking performance of 'Out There'

Broadway.com has a special preview of Ciara Renee's 'God Help the Outcasts' for anyone who hasn't already pre-ordered the album or is waiting patiently for the CD to arrive.

Theatre Mania has the exclusive first listen to Patrick Page's show stoppingly villainous 'Hellfire'

Playbill has an exclusive first listen to the Act 1 Finale, 'Esmeralda'.  Out of all the tracks on the Berlin album, this was easily my favourite, I listened to it that much I practically hear it in English these days, and now I can listen to it in English for real!  A truly magnificent performance from the entire cast!

Broadway World has an exclusive first listen to Ciara Renee and Andrew Samonsky's incredible duet, 'Someday'

And finally, this is another one I can't believe they released before the album, EW has the exclusive first listen to Michael Arden's phenomenal 'Made of Stone'

If these don't send shivers down your spine and make you want to buy the album then I don't know what will!  This album is going to be glorious.  Incredible music sung by a superb cast.  Next Friday can't come soon enough!


The Hunchback of Notre Dame Studio Cast Recording is due for release Friday 22nd January and features music by Alan Menken and lyrics Stephen Schwartz.  The book is by Peter Parnell and the album is produced by Michael Kosarin, Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz, Chris Montan and Executive Producer Kurt Deutsh.

The cast stars Michael Arden as Quasimodo, Patrick Page as Dom Claude Frollo, Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Andrew Samonsky as Captain Phoebus de Martin and Erik Liberman and Clopin Trouillefou.

The Congregation includes Julian Decker, Mary Joe Duggan, Ian Patrick Gibb, Beth Kirkpatrick, Samantha Massell, Neal Mayer, Nora Menken,William Michals, Anise Ritchie, Vincent Rodriguez III, Richard Ruiz, Joseph J. Simeone, Jeremy Stolle and Dashaun Young.

The Road to Broadway


As I've just posted, it's been 5 years since Disney Theatrical and 5th Avenue Theatre officially announced the World Premiere Aladdin.  Well if you fancy a look back at the journey then Disney has you covered!

Coming in August, author Michael Lassell will take you back stage and behind the scenes of the creative process in A Whole New World: The Road to Broadway and Beyond.

"The Tony-Award winning Aladdin is a veritable hit on Broadway and is just beginning national and international performances.  In A Whole New World, readers will discover the journey from ancient legend to screen to stage in the words of its creators."

Given the changes that the show went through and its unique road from Pilot Production to Broadway sensation this promises to be a very interesting read and I can't wait to add it to my book shelf!  I already own the Tarzan: The Broadway Adventure and The Little Mermaid: From the Deep Blue Sea to the Great White Way and they're both fascinating reads with gorgeous production pictures and behind the scenes photos so I know this will be something very special.

5 Years Ago...


It's hard to believe but 5 years ago this week (yesterday to be precise) Disney Theatrical announced the World Premiere of Aladdin at Seattle's historic 5th Avenue Theatre!  Yes, the original production of Aladdin will celebrate it's 5th anniversary this summer!

Back in January 2011 5th Avenue said "We are thrilled to partner with Disney on this prestigious new project ... This new Aladdin incorporates all of the beloved songs from the film's Oscar-winning score plus never-before-heard Menken/Ashman songs restored from early drafts of the score ... The new stage production will be a feast for the eyes and ears and a magical treat fit for the whole family."

I just can't believe it's been 5 years.  That means I've been doing this blog for 5 years!  Not bad considering I didn't expect it to last past 2011!  I can only imagine how life altering it must have been for some of the cast and creative team who've been with this show from the beginning!  It's been an amazing journey and it isn't over yet!