Tuesday, 17 January 2012

One Year Later

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Mark Kitaoka

I can’t believe that this blog is a year old.

This time last year Disney Theatrical officially announced that, in partnership with The 5th Avenue Theatre, they were finally brining Aladdin to the stage. I originally created this blog to follow the production and limited run of that pilot production. At the time I expected I’d be doing nothing more than re-posting news from other websites, creating one location where you could find out everything about the show. I was happy with that. This blog was, and still is, a labour of love. On a whim I contacted Adam Jacobs and 5th Avenue when casting was announced. If I’m being honest I didn’t really expect a reply, and I certainly didn’t expect the wonderful magic carpet ride that was waiting for me!

Due to the incredible generosity of The 5th Avenue and the cast and crew of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical this blog went from simply reporting news to being able to advise fans in advance of upcoming promotional material (such as Courtney Reed’s TV performance of "Call Me a Princess"), and I had the great privilege of being able to interview almost all of the principle cast. And I still hope there’s more to come! One thing I cannot do is overstate how fantastic the people at 5th Avenue were to me, I really could not have done this without them.

Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine, Photo by Mark Kitaoka

Those of you who have been coming here over the last year will probably have noticed that this is the first post I’ve done that doesn’t use a quote from the film (or in some cases the show) for the title. The honest truth is I’m running out of appropriate quotes and I don’t really want to double up on post titles (I know I’ve done that at least once already!). And the time felt right for a change, anything related to the original Seattle run will still use a quote as a title but as we move into the show’s next phase of life - officially licensed regional productions - I’ll be using more "normal" titles... maybe the quotes will come back if the show goes to Broadway ;o)

This year Aladdin: The New Stage Musical is being produced exclusively at just two regional theatres; The Tuacahn Amphitheatre in Utah and The Muny in St. Louis. Tickets for The Tuacahn are on sale now, season tickets for The Muny are now available, single tickets will go on sale 2nd June at the links provided. I hope that I’ll be able to follow both productions as well as I followed 5th Avenue’s production last year, but whatever happens I will at the very least report the news from around the net as quickly as I can (and for that I owe a great deal to the people at Aladdin Central who have been a fantastic help over the last year).

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Chris Bennion

Last January I did a post on my 3 wishes for the show (assuming Broadway was out of the question). I wished for an Seattle Cast Recording, an official Disney Theatrical produced tour and a DVD of the Seattle production. At least I acknowledged how crazy the last one was!! Of course none of these wishes have come true yet. I still hold on to the hope that Disney will release a Seattle Cast Album. I know they never did a studio recording but I’m 99.9% certain that the show was recorded for archival and reference purposes and with today’s technology I’m sure the sound quality would be good enough to release on CD, plus they had an amazing cast that included Jonathan Freeman as Jafar! Unless they’re planning to get the cast back together and take the show to Broadway in the next year or two there’s really no reason not to do a CD. The sales would certainly be there.

The official tour wish? Well give it time. Alan Menken, Chad Beguelin and Casey Nicholaw had 3 days of meetings regarding the show last November. This was almost certainly to discuss (and implement?) the next round of developments for the show before the regional productions later this year (and Europe in the not too distant future). Maybe I’m reading too much into this (and I’ll be the first to admit a lack of knowledge on how things work behind the scenes in the world of musical theatre) but I’m viewing Casey Nicholaw’s involvement as a very positive sign that Disney could (and I really want to emphasis the could here, this may be nothing more than me being overly optimistic) be looking at doing more with the show than simply licensing it out to various professional and amateur groups. If after the Seattle run Disney Theatrical feel that some tweaking is needed to perfect the show then I can completely understand Alan Menken and Chad Beguelin being brought back in as they are the writers and any script changes really needs their input. Though he was involved with the script of the original production, Casey’s involvement suggest, to me, that something more could be a possibility. The Seattle production was done as a pilot, a blueprint for lack of a better word, to show how the show should be done. Any future regional productions (including those coming this year) will be done by new directors. They will be based on the blueprint of the Seattle show, but it is also likely that they will make certain adjustments based on their own vision of the show, the venue, their budget etc. So to bring Casey Nicholaw back for this round of developments suggests that there is at leastsome hope of Disney Theatrical doing their own production of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical in the not too distant future. Whether this is a tour (the domain www.aladdinontour.com was registered by Disney back in 2010) or maybe even Broadway remains to be seen. Of course to keep this in perspective it could simply be that Disney and Casey wanted to alter the blueprint of the show before it went out to the regional directors.

Third wish? Never gonna happen, especially if Disney are even remotely considering the idea of an official tour or Broadway run. But fingers crossed for a special feature about the Seattle production on the 20th Anniversary edition of the film rumoured to be coming out this year!

In all honesty, as nice as those wishes were, thanks to 5th Avenue my Aladdin wishes were more than fulfilled last year, and thanks to an amazing woman saying "I do", all my personal dreams came true as well. Last year was an amazing year for me, I hope it was for all of you as well. Here’s hoping this year will be even better. Now I just need to work out what makes a good first anniversary present... I hear there’s a really nice spa resort in Utah that’s just round the corner from an outdoor amphitheatre...

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