Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Happy Birthday Don Darryl Rivera!


Just a quick post to say happy birthday to the greatest evil sidekick on Broadway!  Happy birthday Don, I hope you have an amazing day!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Broadway News Round Up 37

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Deen Van Meer

Welcome to the latest Broadway news round up for Disney's Aladdin featuring all the latest updates on Disney's newest Broadway hit!

Firstly, sorry there was no update last week but as it was father's day I spent the weekend with my dad.  I don't get to see him as much as I'd like to these days so it was great to be able to spend the weekend with him.

Now, on with the show!

First up, and very fitting in light of this week's Supreme Court ruling, Aladdin's Kathryn Allison took part in Roar earlier this week, the 5th annual benefit concert for Broadway Sings for Pride.  It sounds like it was a great evening for a fantastic cause.

And in the wake of this week's Supreme Court ruling Aladdin celebrated with some very special showbills;

Photo by Adam Kaokept
Adam Jacobs had a few nights away from the show last week but he didn't go too far from the Disney magic.  In fact he took part in a special Disney Theatrical event on the Disney Cruise Line in Norway with his wife Kelly Jacobs (Mary Poppins).  Now I really want to take a Disney cruise!!

New York Theatre Guide's West End Reporter, Hayden Thomas, sat down with Aladdin's James Monroe Iglehart to talk about theatre, Gotham, Disney and even possible West End transfers... (please please please please please!)

And speaking of West End transfers the Daily Mail's Baz Bamigboye is reporting that Disney Theatrical's Thomas Schumacher told him that Aladdin will be coming to London's West End as soon as the Prince Edward Theatre is free, hopefully next year.  But don't expect an official announcement any time soon.  Bamigboye goes on to state that Cameron Mackintosh, who operates the theatre, told him he's currently waiting to arrange a Broadway transfer for the Prince Edward's current show, Miss Saigon, before a date can be arranged for Aladdin's West End debut.

Personally I don't have any reason to doubt that this report is true, apart from the usual reluctance to trust a tabloid column.  We know from previous interviews with Thomas Schumacher that more international productions of Aladdin are in the works and the West End would seem like a natural fit given it's Broadway success and that London hasn't had a new Disney show since Mary Poppins and no Broadway transfer since The Lion King.  I'd just caution saving the celebrations until an official announcement comes from Disney Theatrical.

The Dominion Post has posted a great interview with Trevor Dion Nicholas about making his Broadway wishes come true as the Genie!  And if you want to know more about Trevor you can visit his website which includes the more in depth Q&A that helped to produce the article.  You can also check out his band, Neighborhood Goliath, on Twitter and at their website.  Their first CD goes on sale next month.  So if, like me, you loved Trevor in Aladdin why not give it a try?

Aladdin's Brandt Martinez joined fellow Broadway stars to create the dance video The Backroom which you can view at Broadway World.

The men of Broadway's Aladdin and The Lion King took part in an exclusive photo shoot for OUT and Broadway World has behind the scenes footage from the event.

Aladdin's Yurel Echazarreta is part of Roberto Araujo's photography exhibit Malexposure - B-Side at the G Lounge and Gallery.  The exhibit opens on June 30th and runs through July 6th.  Broadway World has more details.

I'd also like to say best wishes to Aladdin's Jennifer Rias who's taking part in a Disney Themed Master Class this afternoon with Broadway Artist Alliance.

 It's time for a quick Vacation Alert - Adam Jacobs will be away on July 3rd.  Rodney Ingram will be playing the title role that night so if you want to catch Rodney as Aladdin here's you chance.

Aladdin's original Kassim, Brandon O'Neill is returning to the role of the Pirate King in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance at the Ordway Center in St. Paul, Minnesota this August 4-16th so make sure you catch the show if you're in the area!

Samantha Massell, The Muny's Princess Jasmine, recently reunited with her Hunchback of Notre Dame director Scott Schwartz for a reading of Secondhand Lions.

Disney's official blog has posted some fantastic before and after transformation shots that show the cast transform from everyday New Yorkers in citizens of Agrabah with the help of Gregg Barnes' beautiful costumes and a little Disney magic.  You've got to check them out, they're just amazing to look at!

Disney blog DisTripQueen visited Aladdin this week and has posted 5 reasons why Aladdin is a must see for any Disney fan!

Earlier this week the International Thespian Society presented the first show of the 2015 Thespian Festival - The Music of Menken.  Taking part in the show was Something Rotten's Bud Weber who was part of the original Broadway cast of Aladdin (and understudied the title role).  Alan Menken himself couldn't attend the event due to the filming of Beauty and the Beast but did take part in a pre-recorded video interview done specially for the event.

And finally if James Monroe Iglehart hosting and singing in Disney Theatrical's The Originals concert then how about a special Aladdin panel?  Aladdin - The Making of a Classic will bring directors John Musker and Ron Clements to the stage along with animators Eric Goldberg (Genie) and Mark Henn (Jasmine) and voice actors Scott Weinger (Aladdin), Linda Larkin (Jasmine) and Brad Kane (Aladdin, singing voice) as they reveal stories from the making of the animated classic.  Yeah, let's just say I really want to go!!

Until next week!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Broadway News Round Up 36

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Welcome to the latest news round up for Broadway's Aladdin!  Finally back on a weekly schedule (let's see how long it lasts this time!)

First off I just want to say a massive congratulations to last week's Tony Award winners, including Aladdin's Bob Crowley who won Best Scenic Design of a Musical, along with Benjamin Pearcy and Leo Warner, for An American in Paris, and Natasha Katz who won Best Lighting Design of a Musical for the same show.  Casey Nicholaw's Something Rotten! may not have taken home Best Musical (check out their fantastic new poster below) but, like Aladdin, it did take home Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical so congratulations to Christian Borle!

Something Rotten's new poster, image from @RottenBroadway on Twitter

And speaking of the Tony Awards, CBS may not have screened the Creative Arts Awards (which James Monroe Iglehart co-hosted) but you can now watch all of the awards online right here!  One day I hope JMI gets to host the Tonys.  I don't care about the time difference, that I would stay up for!  James even made Fashionista and AM New York's looks at the glitz and glamour of the red carpet!  He also hit the nail right on the head when discussing the appeal of live theatre with Ralphie Tonight on the red carpet and just when you think it couldn't get any better, the Genie meet the Little Mermaid;



Last week Broadway's Aladdin featured on ABC's The Bachelorette.  Now Wetpaint has some more photos from the episode, Business 2 Community has posted a short article on the episode and if you live in the US you can watch the whole episode right here on Hulu.  Or if you just want the Aladdin section Good Morning America has posted a special behind the scenes look at that part of the episode and Broadway World has the video of the Aladdin part of the show featuring Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed (both videos are sadly only viewable in the US).  Finally, the Bachelorette herself has also posted a blog about her Broadway experience over at People!

Finally this week, James Monroe Iglehart discussed his recent 54 Below show with Playbill as he and other Broadway stars talk about how they put their cabaret shows together.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Genie is Going to D23


In 2013 Disney Theatrical took the D23 Expo by storm with their Broadway and Beyond concert.  The evening consisted of songs from every show from Beauty and the Beast right through to Newsies and the evening ended with a special performance of "Somebody's Got Your Back" from the then upcoming Aladdin.

Well D23 have announced that Disney Theatrical are returning to this year's D23 Expo with The Originals and the concert will be bigger and better than ever as it takes the audience on a musical journey through some of Disney's greatest Broadway numbers!  Due to the overwhelming demand for the 2013 event, the 2015 concert will be held not once but twice on the main Stage 23!

Broadway and Beyond's Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins) and Josh Strickland (Tarzan) will both be returning for The Originals and joining them will be Aladdin's very own James Monroe Iglehart who will also host the 70 minute extravaganza!

Disney on Broadway's The Originals will take place on Saturday 15th August at 11am and 2pm on Stage 23 at the D23 Expo in Anaheim.  Tickets and more information on the D23 Expo can be found here.

I can't make it this year (oh how I wish I could after reading this) but one year I swear I'll make it to one of these!!

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

On This Day...

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Has it really been a year?!  On this day in 2014 James Monroe Iglehart took to the stage at the Radio City Music Hall to accept the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for his portrayal of the Genie in Aladdin.  His speech, like the man himself, was passionate and definitely memorable;



If you've ever seen James bring Genie to life then you know the award was well deserved.  Winning the Tony may have been a dream come true for James but he continues to make peoples wishes come true every night at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

Congratulations again James, keep making that magic!

And in case you missed it (or just wanted to see it again) here's James, Adam Jacobs and the cast of Broadway's Aladdin performing "Friend Like Me" on the 2014 Tony Awards!


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Broadway News Round Up 35

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

Has it really been a month since I posted one of these?  I know I've covered the big headlines like Aladdin opening in Tokyo and celebrating 500 performances on Broadway but that barely scratches the surface of what this fabulous cast have been up to! So it's time to play a little catch up with all the residents of the fictional city of Agrabah!

Later this month Aladdin and The Lion King will both be hosting special matinee performances as part of Playbill's Family Day OUT.  Part of Playbill's second annual Playbill Pride, the June 13th event invites LGBT families and allies to a pre-matinee party and lunch with cast members from both shows followed by a 2pm matinee performance.  More details can be found at Playbill though tickets are now sold out for both shows.

At the end of last month James Monroe Iglehart hosted the A Broader Way Karaoke Benefit to raise money for A Broader Way, the initiative set up by Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs to help offer girls from urban communities an outlet for self-expression and creativity through the arts.  But this is James.  He didn't just host, he doesn't just sing, he freestyle raps!!



May was a big month for James as he had his first 54 Below show How the Heck Did I Get Here?  Before the event Playbill had a short preview showing off his fantastic freestyle rap skills (seriously, I will never know how people do that!  I'd totally run out of words!)

Before his 54 Below solo Debut James sat down with Broadway Black Box to talk about how he really did get here;



He also spoke with Theater Mania about that same subject and a little bit about his old rap dreams and the best thing about being a Genie on Broadway.

After his Gotham debut and co-host appearances on The View James also returned to the small screen last week in ABC's Broadway Backstage: Spring Preview!  And if you missed it when it aired (or don't live in America) you can watch it all online right here.

If that wasn't enough James was also The Broadway League's social media correspondent for Broadway's annual Stars in the Alley on 27th May.  You can see a LOT more from that event on James' Twitter and Instagram.

James even found time to take part in Schmackary's annual Broadway Bakes event to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  Broadway World has pictures from the event.  And I have to say, this year was my 4th visit to NYC but only my first visit to Schmackary's and I now have a new favourite cookie!  Seriously, never mind the shows I'd be tempted to fly back to NYC just for one of those cookies!  They need to open a UK store!!

And after all that he still had time to appear on the Denzel Washington podcast live from Union Hall!  You can listen to the full podcast right here!

He may not be up for an award this year but James will be back on the Tonys tonight!  Along with fellow Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller he will co-host The Creative Arts Awards which celebrate the hard work of the often unsung behind the scenes heroes who make the shows possible.

And James returned The Electric Company to teach phonic "I blends" his own special way.  If you live in America you can view it here.

Last month Adam Jacobs took part in a concert production of Sweet Smell of Success to benefit the American Cancer Society.  Broadway.com were on hand to record some of the event, including some of Adam's performance, which you can see here;



Playbill has posted a fantastic video of Seth Rudetsky and Adam reliving Adam's Les Miserables days (I don't think I've ever heard Adam sing so low!)  Make sure you check it out here!  And in another "Obsessed" video, Adam finally gets to upstage JMI!

Courtney Reed did a great interview with Fit for Broadway so make sure you give it a read!

Aladdin's Steel Burkhardt took part in Broadway Sings Bruno Mars last month.

This is a rare treat - The Japan News has posted an interview with the Tokyo casts' Genies in English!  Here Mitsuyuki Doguchi and Hisashi Takiyama talk about their shared role!

Disney on Broadway's YouTube Channel has posted a few more Aladdin videos this month as they use Etch A Sketch to draw the lamp and go behind the scenes of the cast recording with "A Whole New World".  I just love that one year on "Broadway's New Musical Comedy" is now "Broadway's Hit Musical Comedy".





I missed posting this at the time (England's Mother's Day is in March) but Aladdin posted a great little Mother's Day video on Instagram last month.

Remember that recipe video that Disney on Broadway released as part of Aladdin's 1st anniversary?  Well now you can get a closer look at all the dishes on Pin Interest.

And if you're like me and still haven't bought one yet, Aladdin keeps posting pictures on Instagram that make you remember - yes you do want your very own Genie Bear!

Aladdin's legendary composer Alan Menken is certainly keeping busy!  Last month it was announced that Galavant would be returning for second season (which is fantastic as I loved the first season and was dreading it ending on that cliffhanger!), then came the news that Tangled is getting a TV series in 2017 with Alan Menken and Glenn Slater penning new songs!  As I have fond memories of growing up with Aladdin: The Series I think this is wonderful news and a big step in the right direction for the Disney Channel.  The fact that they've waiting this long and not just done it quickly to cash in on the film's success and they've got Alan Menken and Glenn Slater involved gives me very high hopes for the quality of this show.  And if that's not enough yesterday saw the debut of his newest stage musical The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz at the Segal Centre in Montreal.  The show runs now through 28th June and tickets are available here.  Oh, and he's also working on a live action adaptation of one of his greatest Disney classics - Beauty and the Beast!  Like I said, he's definitely keeping busy!

It may seem hard to believe but this time last year we were all crossing our fingers that Aladdin would take home some Tony Awards!  I remember watching a live stream and waking my wife up with a cheer of joy when James Monroe Iglehart won!  This year Aladdin's incredibly talented director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw has been nominated again (for both direction and choreography) for his new show Something Rotten! which is also up for the best musical award.  Something Rotten! re-teamed Casey with Aladdin's costume designer Gregg Barnes who is up for Best Costume Design of a Musical.  I still think it's criminal that Gregg wasn't nominated for Aladdin's amazing costumes so I really have my fingers crossed for him this year!  It total Something Rotten! is up for an incredible 10 awards, so congratulations to Casey and his entire team on that phenomenal achievement.  Broadway.com have posted a great video interview with Casey about his Tony secretsAladdin's scenic designer, Bob Crowley is up for an incredible 4 awards this year including Best Scenic Design of a Play and Best Scenic Design of a Musical and also Best Costume Design in both categories as well!  I want to wish them all the very best of luck!  I can't promise I'll stay up until 5am watching this time but I'm rooting for you!  You can see all of this year's nominees here and The Tony Awards will air live on CBS tonight!

And speaking of Bob Crowley, his work was recently honoured at the New York Theatre Workshop's Spring Gala.  Congratulations Bob!  You can see some photos of the event at Theater Mania.

The list of shows I want to see next time I'm in NYC just seems to keep growing.  Aladdin again (of course!), Something Rotten! and now it's been announced that Casey Nicholaw's Tuck Everlasting is coming to Broadway next year!  The show will begin previews March 19th 2016 with an official opening night already set for 17th April 2016.  Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who played Omar in Aladdin's 5th Avenue Pilot Production, starred in this year's Premiere Production of Tuck Everlasting so hopefully he'll stay with the cast and I'll finally get to see him in something!  And if Prince of Egypt with Norm Lewis does ever happen then I think I'll need to look at a much longer stay in the city than just a weekend next time!

And if you want to be in one of Casey's shows then you might want to read this fascinating interview he did with Playbill where he discusses what he looks for in the people he casts.  It seems the golden rule, like Genie tells Aladdin, is to just be yourself!

I've written previously about the inspiring story of Kylie Myers who touched the heart of Broadway and of the Aladdin cast in particular.  Though Kylie sadly passed away before she could make her Broadway debut in a walk-on role in Aladdin her legacy lives on and Kylie made her Broadway debut in April in a Times Square public service announcement for The Truth 365;



We all love Aladdin's fantastic costumes and know that Gregg Barnes is responsible for designing them.  But what happens after that?  Here's an interesting little piece on the man responsible for providing most of Broadway (including Aladdin) with its footwear.  Like the article says, if you're doing big dance numbers eight shows a week then good footwear is essential!

Aladdin's TV appearances keep coming as the show will feature on ABC's The Bachelorette tomorrow night!  According to the press release "a group of men audition, trying to sing and dance their way into the Bachelorette's heart with hopes of being chosen to be featured with her in that night's performance of Disney's "Aladdin", the Tony-winning hit Broadway musical."  You can see some behind the scenes pictures over at Broadway World and even more at Buddy TV.

One of the best things I've learnt about Broadway whilst doing this blog is how much people want to give back and help nurture the next generation.  The Purple Box Theatre Kids recently visited New York as part of the Voices of Broadway program and had an incredible experience, including singing on stage with the cast of Aladdin!  You can read all about their amazing journey right here.

And speaking of inspiring the next generation, it sounds like Aladdin did just that for the Highlands High School Variations Show Choir on their trip to NYC last month!  You can read their story right here.

Samantha Massell went from Aladdin at The Muny to the US Premiere Production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, now she's returning to The Muny with Hunchback's Andrew Samonsky as they join The Lion King's original Nala, Heather Headley, in Into the Woods this July.  Samantha and Andrew also took part in 54 Below's #tbt Throwback Thursday: The Concert last month, which sounds like it was a great night (you can see Samantha singing "It's Raining on Prom Night" here).

VACATION ALERT - Adam Jacobs will be away June 23rd-25th, for those performances Rodney Ingram will be bringing the title character to life.  If you want to see Rodney as Aladdin this is a great opportunity as it's rare to know when an understudy will be performing in advance.

And speaking of vacations!  Adam, Courtney, James and most of Aladdin's talented ensemble took a little trip last weekend to Walt Disney World to take part in the 2015 IPW convention to promote US travel and tourism.  You can see plenty of great photos on Twitter and Instagram of their time in the parks but it was their Sing Off with the cast of The Lion King that made the news!  Delayed for 6 hours at La Guardia the two casts treated other stranded passengers to show songs and even some freestyle rap to help pass the time!  Disney on Broadway have posted a 4 minute video to their YouTube page but there are longer versions on YouTube.  The video below is 14 minutes but it repeats so the full Sing Off is about 7 minutes;


 
I'm majorly biased but I think the Aladdin cast won!
 
And finally, round two of Don Darryl Rivera and James Monroe Iglehart's hilarious Scare War!!
 
 
A video posted by JM Iglehart (@jmiglehart) on

 
And then came an attempted sneak attack by Don!
 
 
Better luck next time buddy!!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Aladdin Celebrates 500 Shows on Broadway!

 
Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Matthew Murphy
Yesterday Aladdin celebrated its 500th Broadway performance at New York's New Amsterdam Theatre!  I can't believe that this magical show has already reach the 500 milestone!

I've not said it enough recently (and that is going to change!), if you are in New York then you owe it to yourself to see this incredible show.  It will lift your heart with pure joy and make you want to get up and dance in the aisles.  Plus it has the best cast on Broadway, yes I'm biased but trust me they're awesome!

I just want to say a massive congratulations to all the cast, crew, front of house staff, the creative team and everyone at Disney Theatrical for this magical achievement!  Next stop 1000!