Sunday, 31 July 2011

So it goes Short and Sweet...

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin and Courtney Reed as Jasmine, Photo by Chris Bennion

Well today the final curtain will fall on Disney Theatrical/5th Avenue's premier production of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical.  It's been an amazing run and audience reactions have been phenomenal.

I just want to wish the cast, crew and everyone at 5th Avenue the very best of luck for today's final shows, to say thank you for all the help and support you've given me, and most importantly of all to say thank you for bringing my favourite childhood film to life on stage.  My very best to you all for the future (a future that I sincerely hope includes a Broadway run for this show).

Edit - I just wanted to quickly update this post with some of the comments made by the cast on Twitter on their final day;

"Happy closing to the cast and crew of Aladdin! This has been an amazing experience and
you are some of the greatest folks we've had the pleasure to work with!" - 5th Avenue

"Congratulations on a fantastic run you guys! We will miss you all so much!" - 5th Avenue

"I have had so much fun in this show! The cast, the crew, the musicians Wow! Thank you for making this Disney Nerd's Dream come true!" - James Monroe Iglehart

"I have had a great time! We're gonna rock this place tonight!" - James Monroe Iglehart

"Closing day... And the audience is clapping along to "Friend Like Me" at the matinee!" - Courtney Reed

"The audience was clapping with me during Friend Like Me! Albeit off beat but hey its the thought that counts! Besides I got them back on!" - James Monroe Iglehart

"Final show... It hasn't even started and I'm already crying! I just love a happy ending! Thank you to all my dear Aladdin friends!" - Courtney Reed

"Final performance of ALADDIN in Seattle! I'm not ready to say goodbye to this wonderful cast or this town!" - Andrew Keenan-Bolger

"Closing night is always so bittersweet. Congratulations again to everybody on a fantastic run!" - 5th Avenue

"Going to miss Seattle & Aladdin but its hard to complain when I go back to my Broadway show on Tuesday! But Damn I'm gonna miss this!" - James Monroe Iglehart

"Gbye my Seattle home. Gbye M&D. And Gbye my Aladdin family. Thank you for my magic carpet ride! Alaska here I come!" - Courtney Reed

The Cast of Aladdin, Photo by 5th Avenue

Friday, 29 July 2011

This is High Adventure!

Aladdin: The New Stage Musical may be ending it's incredible premiere run in Seattle this weekend, but the cast are still finding time for a few high adventures of their own.  Like when they visited the SANCA School of Flight for some trapeze lessons!  Here's another video blog from Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Omar) of his time in the air.

In an article related to Aladdin, Seattle Weekly talks with Paul Hansen (5th Avenue's percussionist) about his work and his amazing set up for the show (seriously, 35 percussion instruments!)

And thanks to Don Darryl Rivera (Iago) we finally get a better look at some of the absolutely fantastic this show has!  In an article for Playbill he guides us through a 2 show day with 23 great photos and some hilarious captions.  You simply have to check out the article, but you can find the main costume pictures below.

Sean G Griffin as Sultan, Don Darryl Rivera as Iago and Jonathan Freeman as Jafar, Photo by Don Darryl Rivera
Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Don Darryl Rivera as Iago and James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Don Darryl Rivera
I can't believe that in just a few days this production will have finished!  If you're lucky enough to be able to get to Seattle tonight or this weekend, make sure you go and see this show!  There's only 5 shows left and in the words of the Sultan "you've only got 3 more days" so make sure you check it out whilst you still can!  Tickets are available here!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Would they see a Poor Boy? No Siree

Opinion post?  I've not done one of these in ages!  There's just been too much news to report to get round to doing this, not to mention the "week off" I had to get married and not seeing the show certainly doesn't make it any easier!

I've got two goals with this post.  The first is to look objectively at the criticisms in the reviews, see where they agreed, where they disagreed and look at the criticisims from the point of view of a fan.  The second thing is asking for your help, but I'll come to that shortly.

Firstly, let's get one thing straight.  The show did not get bad reviews.  It didn't get absolutely glowing reviews and universal praise, but almost everyone agreed that it is a very good show, it just has room for improvement.  In fact it's interesting to note that the most critical are the more professional reviewers, whilst "ordinary" people who have posted reviews have been almost universal in their praise which is telling of the quality of the show.

And the cast (this amazing cast that I absolutely love) got very good reviews.  Sure there are a few reviews where one reviewer or another didn't like a certain actor or actress, but for every review that said "this actor didn't suit that role/could be better" there were more reviews that said the same actor "was fantastic and perfect for the role".  That's always going to be the case, especially in long running shows or productions like Aladdin where people already have very strong ideas in their head about what the character should be like.

Comparing the Show to the Film
Whilst this isn't an issue for most reviews, I thought I'd mention it here as one reviewer did spend most of their time comparing the show (especially the characters) to the film and more importantly a lot of people who went to see the show or are going to see the show this week (or would go to see the show if Disney did a tour of took it to Broadway) will likely do so expecting to see a more traditional adaptation along the lines of Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid.

The reason for the change was because Alan Menken wanted to go back to the original vision he and Howard Ashman had for Aladdin so that Howard's "lost" songs could be worked back into the story (if you're reading this you probably already knew that).  But whilst the story has been expanded with these new characters and songs, from all the reports coming out of Seattle it's clear this is still the original story at heart, it's just had new layers added to it (Sarah Ashman Gillespie actually says in her review they didn't go back to Howard's original story line).  The biggest change is therefore one of tone, going back to the original idea of a homage to the Hope-Crosby road movies.

This leads into one of the main criticisms that seems to be directed at the show; the breaking of the 4th wall.  It gets broken.  A lot.  Whilst on the one hand I can understand why some reviewers feel that this should be reserved for the Genie, it's important to remember than as well as being Aladdin's friends, Babkak, Omar and Kassim are also the Narrators of the story.  And what did the Narrator do in Aladdin?  He broke the 4th wall before we'd even seen the Genie's lamp.  This isn't something new for the stage show, it's just been extended along with the role of the Narrators, and it all goes back to the original vision of Aladdin as a Hope-Crosby buddy movie (it's interesting to note here that the 3 Howard Ashman songs that remain in the animated classic are all sung by characters who break the 4th wall, it's a coincidence brought about by the changes to the story, but still something to think about).

Most reviews (and more importantly comments from regular audience members) have praised the new characters, the new tone and the changes to the story that came with them, even though most of them more than likely went in expecting to see the film on stage.  If Disney does change anything from this production based on the reviews I sincerely hope that they stay true to the original vision of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken that was revived for this production.

Call Me a Princess
I'm not going to comment on the cast (for one thing I'm way too biased and casts will always change over time no matter how good they are), but I thought Jasmine's character was worth mentioning here due to some of the comments in the reviews.

Seattle Times says;

"Aladdin's spunky love interest, is introduced with the off-putting "Call Me a Princess," a Menken-Ashman tune cut from the film, in which she fends off suitors by being screechingly obnoxious. (Reed's much more appealing in her sweet duets with Jacobs, starting with a pretty new Menken-Beguelin ballad, "A Million Miles Away")."

Now maybe I'm mis-reading the review, but isn't the point of "Call Me a Princess" to be off-putting?  As the review says she's trying to deter unwanted suitors.  Surely the fact that she's off-putting in "Call Me a Princess" and appealing in "A Million Miles Away" is simply in character!

Another review says we don't see the character change throughout the show, but again there isn't meant to be character arc from spoilt brat to the Jasmine we know and love from the film as the spoilt brat from "Call Me a Princess" is just an act put on by the character for that one scene.

Emotion Vs Comedy
Variety's review claims that the show has very few earnest moments (such as "Proud of Your Boy") and because of that they feel out of place next to the comedy which is the main focus of the show.  Now I've not seen the show so I can't speak from personal opinion, but none of the other reviews mention this and just looking at the song list shows that whilst there is a lot of comedy there are plenty of earnest moments as well.  Chad Beguelin even said way back before the show opened that the Aladdin and Jasmine romance was being kept true to the film and it's been said by others that most of the comedy comes from Genie, Iago and the trio which allows Aladdin and Jasmine to remain more earnest characters.

A Whole New World
The big one.  This scene seems to cause the biggest divide amongst all the reviewers.  Some find it beautiful in its simplicity (and the pictures do look gorgeous), others feel that it fall flat in its staging.  Now I can appreciate that you'll never please everyone, but a scene this important shouldn't be so divisive.  If Disney do decide to bring Aladdin: The New Stage Musical to Broadway then this may be the one bit of staging that could use another look.

Which brings me (finally) to the second part of this post.  Myself and others at Aladdin Central have been discussing the show and the reviews and have come to the conclusion that we need to let both 5th Avenue and Disney Theatrical know what the fans think of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical and our desire to see it come to Broadway (or at least an official National Tour by Disney before they license it out).  Whilst ticket sales are obviously the most important indicator of success, the reviews are very important in determining the future of the show (you can bet if the show had fantastic reviews and sold out all performances then Disney would be thinking very seriously about a Broadway run).  Therefore we need to make our voices heard.  Whilst 5th Avenue's facebook page is full of praise for the show, the best way to do this is the old fashioned way - by mail.  Write to them, tell them you support the show, if you've seen it say what you loved, offer constructive criticism if you have any, if you disagree with the reviews (as above) then tell them why you think they're wrong in their criticism, even if you've not seen the show (which is probably most of you) please write to them and tell them how much you support the show and want to see it on Broadway and/or a National Tour.  But please remember to be polite and constructive!

Here's the addresses you need;

David Armstrong
Artistic Director/Executive Producer
5th Avenue Theatre
1308 5th Avenue
WA 98101

Thomas Schumacher
Disney Theatrical Group
214 W. 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036

5th Avenue want the show to do well, it's in their interest for the show to go to Broadway as they will get a share of the profits as they helped develop the show, but Disney have to be convinced the show is worth taking to Broadway.  This is in no way saying that Disney are against the show, it's only thanks to Disney that we have the show in the first place, but Disney have been burned a lot on Broadway in  recent years with both Tarzan and The Little Mermaid closing early (though The Little Mermaid was at least in part due to high operating costs in a poor economy) so they're not going to take the risk unless they think it's worth it, especially when they can make money from licensing the show out without taking on any of the risks of producing it themselves.  Aladdin: The New Stage Musical has in it's favour the fact that it's been designed and produced on a budget, so if it should go to Broadway the risks are much lower as the operating costs are (apparently) very low compared to most major Broadway shows, plus it has had an extraordinarily high level of public and media interest when you consider that this is (officially) a pilot production of a licensable show and not a pre-Broadway run, and more importantly audience reaction at 5th Avenue has been nothing short of amazing and if they can transport that to Broadway they're looking at a winner.

Friday, 22 July 2011

A New FANTASTIC Point of View

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin and Courtney Reed as Jasmine, Photo by Chris Bennion

Maybe I'm being a bit premature with the title of this post (no reviews have come out yet), but pretty much everything said about this show so far has been positive, so I'm certain the reviews will be the same.

I'll update this post as the reviews come in, but before that make sure you check out the new video posted by King 5 where Adam Jacobs (Aladdin), Courtney Reed (Jasmine) and James Monroe Iglehart (Genie) talk about the show and we're treated to some amazing footage which includes "Friend Like Me" and "High Adventure"!  I can't put into words how awesome this show looks and how much I wish I was in Seattle right now!  So stop reading this and go watch it!!!!!

1st Update - Still no reviews but a very short interview with none other than Alan Menken has been posted by Talkin' Broadway, so make sure you check that out as the Disney Legend talks about Aladdin: The New Stage Musical and what he has planned for the future (including one show that should make Don Darryl Rivera very happy!)

2nd Update - No reviews yet (time difference sucks!) but Seattle Times have posted a beautiful article about Alan Menken's visit to Seattle Children's Hospital and 5th Avenue have posted another edition of The JMI Show on their youtube page where our favourite Genie interviews Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Brandon O'Neill and his old friend Brian Gonzales!

3rd Update - Well the first reviews are in and they run the full range from positive to negative, which is pretty standard for a Disney production!  Most seem to agree that the show is good, but has areas where improvements could be made.  It seems Aladdin: The New Stage Musical is, like its title character, a diamond in the rough (at least in the eyes of the critics).

Seattle Times - World Premiere Aladdin Lands at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre
Variety - Disney's Aladdin: The New Stage Musical
Broadway World - Disney's Aladdin at 5th Avenue Theatre - Very Disney Park
The Broadway Critic - Aladdin @ 5th Avenue Theatre (note this review is from 10th July preview, whilst changes were still being made to the show)
Examiner - Aladdin Stage Show Offers "Unbelievable Sights" and "Indescribable Feelings" (note this review is from 16th July preview whilst changes were still being made to the show)

It's midnight now, so I'm off to bed!  Maybe there will be more reviews in the morning.

I'm really not worried by the reviews, pretty much every Disney show (bar maybe The Lion King) received mixed reviews and most of them went on to long and successful runs.  Beauty and the Beast ran for 13 years on Broadway and still tours around the US and the world, Tarzan may not have been the success Disney hoped for on Broadway but with some re-working it went on to huge success in Europe (and recently started regional productions in the US I believe!), Mary Poppins is still going strong on Broadway and whilst The Little Mermaid closed way before it should have (that show was criminally under rated) it's now being re-worked (like Tarzan) for a European release and will hopefully start it's long promised US Tour in the near future.  And it's important to keep in mind that Aladdin: The New Stage Musical had only a fraction of the budget of those shows!

4th Update - Two more reviews, both of which are largely positive!

Seattle's Child - A Parent's Review: Aladdin
MiceChat - MiceChatter Igrules visists Disney's Aladdin Show in Seattle (note this review is from 9th July preview, whilst changes were still being made to the show)

5th Update - Four more reviews which are all positive, including one from someone who says they hadn't seen the film before going to the show (which gives a nice new point of view) and a heartfelt post by Howard Ashman's sister Sarah from her site Part of His World.

Good Life Northwest - Aladdin Makes Magic at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre
My Life and Times - They're Playing Music While We're Fighting...
Unlikely Places - Aladdin at 5th Avenue Theatre
Part of His World - Proud of Your Boy

I can't think of a better review to end on.

6th Update - Hold on to your turbans folks because we're not done yet!  One last review just for good measure;

just sayin'... - Don't You Dare Close Your Eyes

A nice positive review to end on!  But if any more appear then I'll be sure to do another update!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

I'm Your Master Now!

So Genie, Jafar and Iago were all sat around the table chatting about the show... must be another episode of The JMI Show!!

With opening curtain just a few hours away, 5th Avenue have released another edition of The James Monroe Iglehart Show where James talks with his co-stars Jonathan Freeman and Don Darryl Rivera.

It's late, so I'll probably edit this post in the morning, so all I'm gonna say tonight is just watch the video!

And of course, best wishes to all the cast and crew, and everyone at 5th Avenue, for tonight's official opening!

Edit: And here's the video!

On a Scale of 1 to 10, You are an 11!!

As a special opening day treat, I'm honored to be able to present an interview with Don Darryl Rivera!!

The 5th Avenue kindly arranged this for me a while ago and the answers arrived back  literally the day before I got married!!  So sorry for the wait, and without any further delay here's the man bringing Iago to life!

Firstly let me say congratulations on landing the role of Iago in the Seattle production of Aladdin and thank you for agreeing to this interview!

Thanks! I'm so excited that you wanted to interview me! I've been following the blog :-)

When did you first decide you wanted to be on stage, how did you get into the business, and who (or what) would you say have been your biggest influences?

I decided I wanted to making acting my profession in high school when I played the Leading Player in "Pippin." The magic of theatricality in that show totally drew me in to wanting to be a professional actor. The stars were totally in alignment when I started my career. Coming out of Cornish College of the Arts here in Seattle, I had an internship lined up with Seattle Shakespeare Company in "Much Ado..." directed by the Artistic Associate of Seattle Children's Theatre. From that production I had made so many connections at Seattle Shakes and Seattle Children's that I had work lined up for a year in advance. Really I haven't stopped working since graduating. Two of the most influential theatre artists in my life are Linda Hartzell, Artistic Director of Seattle Children's Theatre and Rita Giomi, Artistic Associate of Seattle Children's Theatre. They've given me so many beautiful opportunities and challenges and have really played a pivotal role in shaping me as a theatre artist.

You’ve played an incredibly wide range of roles, from Shakespeare to musicals to children’s theatre. Which type of role do you find challenges you the most as a performer and which do you enjoy playing the most?

I am a big believer of the work that Seattle Children’s Theatre produces. For me it is rewarding and artistically challenging to perform for kids, they are the most honest audience you will ever have.

Don Darryl as Roger in I Was A Rat, Photo by Chris Bennion

Do you remember Aladdin from its original release? Were you a fan of the film before you got the part?

I was a huge fan of the movie! If I remember correctly, I had the cassette tape of the original, original soundtrack before they changed that one lyric in "Arabian Nights."

How did you come to be involved in the Seattle production and what was the audition process like?

I was called in to audition for Aladdin, but not for any role in specific. My first audition was for a few people. My callback was for a room full of people, I sang a couple songs and Casey looked at me and asked me to learn one of the Iago sides. I was so nervous that I had forgotten which one he told me to learn, so I learned all three! I went back in to the audition room and it was the most fun audition I've ever had to date, I think.

What was your reaction when you were told you’d got the part?

I still can't believe it.

With all the changes from film to stage (including the apparent removal of Abu and Rajah) there’s been some speculation that Iago might not even be a parrot in this production! Can you please confirm (if you’re allowed) whether or not Iago is still a parrot?

I'm pretty sure I can say that I'm not a parrot in the show. Although there are a few homages to Iago's feathered past thanks to Chad Beguelin our amazing book writer/lyricist and Greg Barnes our fabulous costume designer.  

As I’ve got older Iago has become one of my favourite characters in the movie (and especially in the series that followed). Has Iago’s character gone through any changes for this production? And what can you tell us about your approach to the role?

Iago is a little more even tempered in our production - he's definitely got a little funny bone in him but at the same time there is a real sense of danger about him. I've brought something new to Iago, but the essence of Iago that everyone knows and loves is still rooting around in there too.

Don Darryl as Iago with the cast of Aladdin, Photo by 5th Avenue

What’s it like working opposite Jonathan Freeman’s Jafar? You two looked like you worked really well together in the Spotlight Night "Why Me?" preview.

Jonathan is simply amazing. He's the sweetest person and a very generous scene partner - there's a certain comfort and ease that makes the stage feel comfortable, almost like home. I love working with him and I hope I get to do it again in the future!

Iago didn’t really get a singing role in the animated classic (he had to wait until The Return of Jafar), is "Why Me?" your only number, or can we expect Iago to do more singing in this show?

Iago is featured in "Why Me" and at this point, that's the only song.

I believe you started tech rehearsals this weekend, how’s everything going and (if you can say) what’s the set like?

Things are going well. It's a BIIIG show. The orchestra is amazing and the set, oh the set - it is really a beautiful sight to behold and the lights! Oh gosh... Natasha Katz our lighting designer is awesome. Disney and the 5th Ave have really pulled the best of the best on this show... It's gonna be spectacular.

How do you prepare before a show? Do you have any superstitions or routines that you do before you go on stage each night?

I don't really have a strict way to prepare although I do like to get very zen when I put on my makeup. I also like to make my dressing room as comfortable as possible because it helps keep me relaxed and focused. I am a very superstitious person... I actually used to have a wooden clothespin that I would wear under my costumes for years. I lost it a few years ago and was certain that I would have bad luck on stage for the rest of my life - suffice it to say, I've had a pretty lucky streak in my career.

Looking to the future, do you have any dream roles that you would love to do?

If Disney ever does an English version of Der Glockner... I would love to play Quasimodo. I've already played Sancho Panza in Man of La Mancha but would love, love, love to do it again!

And finally, looking back over your career so far, do any moments or performances really stand out as something truly special that you’ll always remember?

This show. It is a wish come true to be a part of the original cast of Aladdin.
Don Darryl, thank you so much for your time, it’s been a pleasure. All the best for the show!


I don't normally comment at the end of interviews, but I just have to say I would love to see Disney bring Der Glockner Von Notre Dame to Broadway and give Don Darryl his dream role!  I still think it's amazing how everyone on this cast was a fan of the film growing up, and if you want to learn more about Don Darryl then make sure you check out his website!

A Million Miles Away

I take a few days off and everything goes crazy!!

The biggest news is 5th Avenue released the first production video over the weekend, featuring Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine singing the beautiful new duet "A Million Miles Away".

I still can't believe how perfect they are for these roles!  Just listen to their voices together and the harmonies!  I felt so cheated when the video faded out, I just wanted it to keep going!

And of course the video gives us our first close up look at one of the sets.  Considering this show is only running for a month with no plans (or at least no announced plans) for any official tour or Broadway, the set looks amazing.  Sure it's not the most elaborate set in the world, but it looks like it came straight out of the film and that's far more important.

And earlier this week Broadway World posted a photo preview of the show;

Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Chris Bennion
 I can hear the opening notes of "A Whole New World" just looking at that picture!!

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Chris Bennion

James leads the ensemble through "Prince Ali"!  And if you look closely you can also see Sean G. Griffin as the Sultan on the left!  I wonder if Jonathan Freeman's Jafar is squashed behind the door...

Aladdin, Genie and the Gang, Photo by Chris Bennion

Too many names to put in the caption!  From left to right Brian Gonzales (Babkak), James Monroe Iglehart (Genie), Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Omar), Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) and Brandon O'Neill (Kassim).  Given the back drop looks like a dungeon and what little I've actually heard about the revised story in the show, I'm guessing this photo is from "High Adventure" in Act 2 as the gang break out of prison to go and fight Jafar and save Jasmine (or something along those lines!)

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Courtney Reed as Jasmine and Sean G. Griffin as Sultan, Photo by Chris Bennion

I'm not sure if this is their first attempt to get married (as Prince Ali and Princess Jasmine) or the actual finale, but it sure looks beautiful!

And as the perfect finishing note, on Tuesday Alan Menken paid a visit to Seattle Children's Hospital and spent some time in the playroom bringing a little Disney magic to brighten their day.

All that remains is for me to wish the cast, crew and everyone at 5th Avenue a magical opening night!  The previews have ended, the show is locked and tonight the press can officially see the show and the reviews will be out tomorrow.  I'm sure they'll be magical.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A Whole New Life

On Tuesday Ron Clements and John Musker (the writer/directors of Disney's The Great Mouse Detective, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules and The Princess and the Frog) got to see their film come alive on stage in Seattle!

These two men (along with Alan Menken and Howard Ashman) are responsible for launching Disney's renaissance in 1989 with The Little Mermaid and without them you more than likely wouldn't be reading this now.  We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude for the work they did (and continue to do) at Disney.  I can only imagine how good it must have felt for them to see the original vision for Aladdin brought to life at The 5th and I'm delighted they got the chance to be there.  5th Avenue have posted more details (and more pictures) in their backstage blog here.

Ron and John with the cast of Aladdin, Photo by 5th Avenue
As well as showing us the amazing Ron and John meeting the cast, the above photo also gives us our first look at the FANTASTIC costumes for the show!  Aladdin (Adam Jacobs) and Jasmine (Courtney Reed) look beautiful in their wedding outfits, Genie (James Monroe Iglehart) looks great as he sets off to see the world (he's freeeee!!), Iago (Don Darryl Rivera) looks good in human form, and Jonathan Freeman is Jafar brought to life!!

The additional picture on The 5th's site shows the full ensemble in their end of show costumes.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger also tweeted that he has learnt a new song that will be going in the show tonight, and he has kindly confirmed that the song is a "fun new reprise of "High Adventure"!

Have to apologise now as I unintentionally took a few days off this week (wedding stuff has been keeping me very busy) and didn't post these as soon as I could have;

Theater Mania has posted an interview with director Casey Nicholaw where he discusses Aladdin: The New Stage Musical and his approach to staging the songs for the show, his previous work on The Book of Mormon and Elf, and what it was like winning a Tony Award!

D23 (the official Disney fanclub) have posted a short feature on the show; "Wishes Come True in Seattle", it's nothing we haven't seen or heard already but it's nice to see Disney promoting the show.  I'm really hoping they do a full feature on the show in the next issue!

And I think that's me all caught up! To paraphrase Aladdin, tomorrow "it will go short and sweet, I'll be wed down the street" so I probably won't be able to update anything for the next few days, but I'll be back in time for the show's official opening on 21st July, so hopefully we can expect lots more pictures and videos as things get locked in place!

Edit - It was brought to my attention a while back that the 5th Avenue blog page I linked to above has been taken down for some reason and I was asked if I could post the other picture.  I was waiting for 5th Avenue to confirm this was ok, but they're really busy so I've not had a response yet.  However, given that I've not been asked to take the other picture down (and Broadway World has both pictures up as well) I think it's ok for me to post this.  Sorry for the long delay!

Ron and John with the cast of Aladdin, Photo by 5th Avenue

Sunday, 10 July 2011

A Whole New World

I can't put into words just how good this video is!  James Monroe Iglehart (Genie) is back with another fantastic interview, this time with Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) and Courtney Reed (Jasmine).  Just watching this you can tell they were born to play these roles!

Anyway, that's enough from me!  Just watch;

Saturday, 9 July 2011

So it Goes Short and Sweet

Alan Menken tweeted today that the "Wedding Suite" is being replaced and "Finale Ultimo" is being trimmed.  He also said that the second night was even better than the first!

I'm curious as to what's replacing the "Wedding Suite" - "Prince Ali, Reprise", "Humiliate the Boy"?  Hopefully we'll hear tomorrow morning (well technically today for me!)

Not too surprised to hear that "Finale Ultimo" is being altered.  The Little Mermaid's finale went through a lot of changes as well before the final version.  I hope they don't cut too much though, I still think the very first version of The Little Mermaid's finale had the most beautiful lyrics (but I can see the staging reasons for the changes).

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Mark Kitaoka
And Hunk du Jour has posted a great new interview with Adam Jacobs that offers a fantastic insight into Adam and his work.  Make sure you check it out!

Friday, 8 July 2011

It Begins on a Dark Night...

Actually it's July and it was early evening, so it probably wasn't all that dark, but I'm running out of appropriate quotes so it'll do!

Aladdin: The New Stage Musical will be raising the curtain on it's second performance soon, but here's a quick look at what some people have been saying about the opening night starting with Princess Jasmine herself, Courtney Reed;

Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine, Photo by Mark Kitaoka
 "The audience is going wiiiiiiillllld!!!!!" - Courtney Reed (@RhodesReed) via Twitter

"Our first preview last night was THRILLING! It's obviously too early to celebrate but I've never heard an audience go that wild!" - Andrew Keenan-Bolger (@KeenanBlogger) via Twitter

And here's a taste of what people are saying on 5th Avenue's facebook page;

"Saw the performance last night - it was a great first show! Sound was good, costumes are fantastic and love all of the cast especially Mr. James Monroe Iglehart"

"Saw the show last night!!! AMAZING job! Can't wait to come back! :)"

"Absolutely love Aladdin! ... Cast was great and the big numbers were fantastic!"

"What a magical carpet ride of a show! We enjoyd ourselves so very much! It was delightful to see so many captivated young theatre goers...truly a show for all ages!"

Tsom over at Ultimate Disney has also found a song list for the show, posted here!!!

Arabian Nights
Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim
One Jump Ahead
One Jump Ahead, Reprise
Proud of Your Boy
Arabian Nights, Reprise 1
Call Me a Princess
Call Me a Princess, Reprise
Why Me
A Million Miles Away
Arabian Nights, Reprise 2
Friend Like Me
Arabian Nights, Reprise 3
Act 1 Finale (said to be a reprise of Friend Like Me for the Prince transformation followed by a reprise of Proud of Your Boy)

Prince Ali
A Whole New World
High Adventure
Somebody's Got Your Back
Wedding Day Suite (said to be a bit of everything including an extended Prince Ali, Reprise)
Finale Ultimo (said to be reprises of Somebody's Got Your Back, Arabian Nights and A Whole New World)

Now obviously things can change between now and when the show officially opens in 2 weeks.  Songs could be altered, cut, extended or replaced depending on how well audiences respond, but right now that's the show!

It's interesting to see how close together "One Jump Ahead, Reprise" and "Proud of Your Boy" are.  Given these could both be seen as Aladdin's "I want" song, where the character bares his soul and reveals his inner desires, I'd expected them to be further apart.  But thinking about it I can see the sense in having them next to each other.

I LOVE that the "Arabian Nights Reprises" are in the show! The first could be the same as the demo (or totally different, I don't know!) but the second would need some tweaking (unless the fake uncle plot has been restored) and the third would need to be totally diffrent given the original demo featured Aladdin in prison and sang about "rats in your cell"!

I was kinda hoping that Jasmine's solo "To Be Free"  from Aladdin: The Musical Spectacular would be in the show, but I'm sure "Call Me a Princess, Reprise" fills the same spot in the story and probably flows better than a completely new song at that point.  Also notable by its absence is "How Quick They Forget", with the return of Babkak, Omar and Kassim, I really thought they'd add all their songs back in.

I'm practically bursting to hear the new songs (especially the reprise of "Proud of Your Boy" in the "Act 1 Finale").  Here's hoping The 5th release official previews soon!

"High Adventure" must have gone through some changes given the original demo features the characters riding back to Agrabah to save Jasmine (or I guess Abby could be the "damsel in despair" refered to in the original story) which would probably have placed it after "Wedding Day Suite" as Aladdin heads back (is the ends of the earth even in this version?) to rescue Jasmine.  Whatever changes I really want to hear this song, it's one of my favourites from The Music Behind the Magic!

And I can't wait to hear "Finale Ultimo" (please release a CD!!) and listen to how they've combined the original "Arabian Nights, Reprise 4" (eventually used in Aladdin and the King of Thieves and being used at the end of my wedding reception!) and the film's finale version of "A Whole New World"!  What I'd give to have a copy of that to play at the end of my wedding reception next week!

Well it's 1am here, so "I'd better go home and rest"!  But before I do there's one last comment I want to share with you.  This one says it all;

"First preview of ALADDIN last night. Soooo much fun! Everyone is so happy. Howard lives again thanks to Casey, Chad and the whole team..." - Alan Menken (@AlMenken) via Twitter

Thursday, 7 July 2011

It's a Bright New Star!

Aladdin: The New Stage Musical finished it's first preview a few hours ago, and from what I've been told it was spectacular!  Hopefully we'll be hearing a lot more (pictures, song list, etc.) over the next day or so!

To celebrate the opening, The Seattle Times has posted a video of the recent sitzprobe (the first sit down rehearsal with the cast and full orchestra) which features JMI giving another brief interview and gives a preview of "Arabian Nights".  Check it out here!

More very soon (I hope)!

Shining, Shimmering, Splendid

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin and Courtney Reed as Jasmine, Photo by Mark Kitaoka

As the cast and crew of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical go through their final rehearsal before the curtain goes up in front of their first audience, I'm delighted to announce that 5th Avenue have released the full video of the Aladdin Spotlight Night held last month at the Paramount Theatre!

Hosted by David Armstrong (Producing Artistic Director at The 5th), the video runs nearly an hour and features interviews with Steve Fickinger (VP Creative Development for Disney Theatrical), Chad Beguelin (Writer, Lyricist), and the cast of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical.

We've been treated to some of the footage before ("Why Me?", "Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim", James' interview) but the full video contains much more discussion with the cast and two additional performances; "Call Me a Princess" and "A Whole New World"!!  The performance is amazing, and if that was Adam when he feels under the weather, I can only imagine how good he'll be on stage tonight!

I'll take this opportunity to once again say good luck to all involved tonight.

It's show time!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

It's About Time!

I knew I'd be back today!

Seattle Weekly have posted a short interview with none other than Jafar himself, Jonathan Freeman!  In the interview he talks about the show and playing Jafar for over 20 years!  There is also an amazing behind the scenes photo of Jonathan in his dressing room with a certain black and red turban on display...

And if you're lucky enough to be going to see Aladdin: The New Stage Musical tonight then I'm sure you'll be picking up one of these;

I can only imagine all the new images that could be inside!  Also 5th Avenue have confirmed on Twitter that there will be merchandise for this show, so I'm going to be spending quite a bit on ebay in the next few weeks!!

Whilst everyone is going to be hard at work tonight, in case you've ever wondered what the cast of Aladdin do on their day off, make sure you check out this video posted by Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Omar) showing the cast celebrating 4th July!

Once again, good luck to everyone involved for tonight's opening performance!

Are You Gonna Love this Guy!

Kaci Aitchison from Q13 went back to the set of  Aladdin: The New Stage Musical this morning for a final look behind the curtain before the show opens tomorrow night!

Three new videos can be found here, including short interviews with James Monroe Iglehart (seriously the more I see this guy, the more convinced I become that he's going to be the BEST Genie ever!) and writer Chad Beguelin.

I don't think I've ever been this excited about a show, especially one that I have no chance of seeing (still keeping my fingers crossed for Broadway...).  Even just the brief glimpses of the stage in the videos made me grin like crazy!

I can't decide if tomorrow is going to be a very late night for me or if Friday will be a very early morning, the time difference is a "royal pain" (to quote Jasmine) but I guess that's all part of the fun!

I'm sure I'll do this again tomorrow, but I just want to wish the cast and crew, and everyone at 5th Avenue, the best of luck for opening night!  Make some magic everyone!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Now I Know I'm Dreaming

5th Avenue have posted another video preview on their youtube channel.  This one is taken from their Spotlight Night a few weeks ago and features James Monroe Iglehart talking about how he got the role of Genie and making the part his own.

The more I hear James talk about the role, the more I'm convinced he's going to be the perfect Genie.  I mean, just watch him in the video - he's fantastic!

I really hope this show comes to Broadway with as much of this cast as possible!  I may not be able to get to Seattle, but if it ever hits New York (or even a National Tour) I'll be on the first flight!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Why am I Not Surprised!?

Time for a (very) quick update before work!

AladdinsGenie from Aladdin Central has found an interview with Don Darryl Rivera (Iago) and Brandon O'Neill (Kassim) done on the John Curley Show a week or so ago and made it available on youtube.

And 5th Avenue's twitter page has posted a link to a preview article in the Seattle Times which includes a VERY exciting quote from Director Casey Nicholaw about the show's future after it finishes its run in Seattle!  Keep your fingers crossed, if Aladdin: The New Stage Musical does better than expected then it could have a Broadway future!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Nice to have You on the Show!

Yesterday 5th Avenue released a very special video on their youtube page - a new installment of The James Monroe Iglehart Show!

In the first of what will hopefully be many interviews, James (Genie in Aladdin: The New Stage Musical) speaks with director, and recent Tony Award Winner, Casey Nicholaw!

I'm not going to spoil anything here, but there are a few revelations about the show, including one about Iago!

James is an excellent interviewer, so watch and enjoy;