Thursday, 2 June 2011

Oh, Ye People of Agrabah

Ok, I know it's not a direct film quote like all the other titles, but it is from the "lost" lyrics of "Prince Ali" and this article is about the new cast who are going to be bringing many of those "lost" lyrics back to life in Seattle in just a few short weeks, so it felt appropriate.

Yesterday Disney/The 5th Avenue Theatre announced the full cast for Aladdin: The New Stage Musical, I wasn't able to do a full post this morning, so this post is going to look at the cast's credits and contain photos that I missed earlier.

Adam Jacobs is Aladdin

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Mark Kitaoka
Adam comes to the role of Aladdin fresh from portraying another Disney favorite, Simba, in the National Tour of The Lion King (a role he will reprise on Broadway in August).  Adam first performed in a musical when he was 13, and played the role of the 13th apostle (or "wanna-be apostle" as his website biography says) in a local production of Jesus Christ Superstar.  Since then he has trained extensively and gone on to star in the National Tour and Broadway Revival of Les Miserables (as Marius), the National Tour of Mamma Mia (as Sky), and a wide variety of regional productions including his Equit debut as Nanki-Poo in Hot Mikado and the title role in Jospeh and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Courtney Reed is Princess Jasmine

 Courtney recently finished a successful run as Carla in the Broadway production of Into the Heights (where she has also played the role of Vanessa and understudied as Nina), before which she appeared in Broadway's Mamma Mia  where she understudied as both Ali and Lisa.  Courtney has also appeared in several regional productions and has an extensive background in a variety of dance styles.

James Monroe Iglehart is Genie

James has been performing ever since he joined his high school show choir.  He originated the role of "Big Love" Bobby in Memphis the Musical back in 2004, and the show has stuck with him!  Whilst he has played other roles on and off Broadway, including Mitch Mahoney in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and the Lion in The Wiz, Memphis keeps calling him home.  He returned to the role of Bobby for short pre-Broadway runs in both San Diego and Seattle, and finally took the show to Broadway in 2009.

Jonathan Freeman is Jafar

Best known as the voice of the villainous Jafar in Disney's animated classic Aladdin, Jonathan Freeman is an extremely versatile and accomplished actor.  Though he has extensive film and television credits, outside of Aladdin, Jonathan is best know for his work on stage in musical theatre, where he has played an incredible range of roles both on and off Broadway, and in regional theatre, including his Tony Award nominated performance in She Loves Me.  Since voicing Jafar in Aladdin (as well as in the sequel The Return of Jafar and many other cartoon and video game appearances), Jonathan has appeared in several Disney Theatrical productions; Beauty and the Beast (as Cogsworth), Mary Poppins (as Admiral Boom and the Bank Chairman) and he originated the role of Grimsby in The Little Mermaid.

Don Darryl Rivera is Iago

An native of Seattle Don Darryl has been performing since he was 9 years old and entered an all city karaoke contest.  His performance led to him becoming the youngest member of an "all-star" karaoke team that toured Washington state.  He discovered his love of musical theatre when he performed in the spring musical at Bishop Blanchet High School.  He went on to attain his Bachelor of the Arts Degree from the Cornish College of the Arts in 2006 and began his internship with the Seattle Shakespeare Company in same year.  He has been performing ever since and has a wide variety of regional theatre credits ranging from Much Ado About Nothing (Verges) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Francis Flute) to Disney's High School Musical (Ryan Evans) and The Wizard of Oz (Mayor of Munchkinland).

Sean G. Griffin as the Sultan

A veteran of the Seattle Stage, Sean was born in Ireland and moved to America with his parents in 1956.  He studied at the University of Notre Dame and has now been an actor for more than four decades, appearing on film, television, Broadway (Dancing at Lughnasa, The Queen and the Rebels, Ned and Jack, and The National Health) and most prominently in regional theatres.  His Seattle credits alone include works as varied as The Taming Shrew, The Devil and Daniel Webster, The Secret Garden, Yankee Doodle Dandy, My Fair Lady, and many more!  He is also a painter.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger as Omar

Andrew has recently appeared as Robertson Ay both on Broadway and in the National Tour of Mary Poppins.  Proving he is no stranger to Disney musicals, he has also starred as Chip in Beauty and the Beast, provided the singing voice of Chip in the animated movie Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, and read the role of Crutchy in the Newsies workshop.  He also read the role of Omar at the original workshop for Aladdin: The New Stage Musical last year.  His other credits include Jojo in Seussical on Broadway, The Little Boy in the National Tour of Ragtime, and Torchy in the regional production of It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! at the Dallas Theatre Centre.

Brian Gonzales as Babkak

Brian recently appeared on Broadway and in the National Tour of Shrek: The Musical in a variety of roles and as the understudy Shrek.  He also appeared in the Broadway production and National Tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in the roles of Barfee, Panch and Coneybear.  He has performed in many regional productions, including Lyric Stage's Fiorello!, Water Tower Theatre's Laughter on the 23rd Floor, and in Plano's PFamily Arts production of I Do!  I Do!

Brandon O'Neill as Kassim

Brandon O'Neill is a regular at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, where his numerous credits include Guys and Dolls (Sky Masterson), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Asher), Cabaret (Helmut), Buddy (Ritchie Valens) and Miss Saigon (Thuy).  He has also appeared in several other regional productions and on film, including 2011's The Hit List.

That completes the core cast, but just as important are the ensemble of Tia Altinay, Kristin Culp, Nick DeSantis, Ronald Duncan, C.J. Eldred, Daisy Hobbs, David Janett, Kenway Hon Wai K. Kua, Nikki Long, Stanley Martin, Creighton Oliver, Shanna Marie Palmer, Bobby Pestka, Connor Russell, Manuel Santos, Allysa Shorte, Daniel J. Watts and Matt Wolfe, without whom this production would not be possible.  I'm sure many of them will go on to leading roles themselves in the near future.

Music is by the legendary Alan Menken, with lyrics by the late Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.  Additional lyrics are by Alan Menken and Chad Beguelin.

Aladdin: The New Stage Musical is directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw from a book by Chad Beguelin.  Production designers include  designer Anna Louizos, costume designer Greg Barnes, lighting designer Natasha Katz and musical supervisor Michael Kosarin.

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