Monday, 28 January 2013

Casting Calls Go Out for Broadway's Aladdin

Oh boy does it feel good to be writing that!

Late last week Playbill posted the official Equity listings for Aladdin, including Principal Auditions, Chorus Call for Dancers and Chorus Call for Singers for auditions early next month.  Full listings can be found by following the links.

The listings describe the show as;

"Based on the much loved animated film, Aladdin: The New Stage Musical tells the story of a street-smart commoner whose whole life changes with one rub of a magic lamp. 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. It marks a return to the authors' original vision: a loving homage to the Hope-Crosby road pictures with a score invoking the jazz sound of stars like Cab Calloway and Fats Waller."

For those who are successful at the auditions (and those of us who want to know when we can expect to hear the first real hints about the new production) the show dates given are;

Rehearsals begin in NYC: Fall 2013.
Playing in Toronto: Early Winter 2013/2014
Rehearsals in NYC: Winter 2014.
Begin performances in NYC: Spring 2014

The principal roles on offer are;

20s, any ethnicity. Clever, resourceful street urchin with a heart of gold; best friends with Babkak, Omar and Kassim; seeks a life beyond the confines of poverty. Soaring bari-tenor voice.

20s, any ethnicity. Intelligent young princess with insight beyond her years and station; seeks a life beyond the confines of privilege. Fantastic belter that can mix through the break to soprano.

20s, any ethnicity. Chubby, romantic desert dweller, part of Aladdin’s band; the “Crosby” of this Arabian “Road” picture, although perhaps with a bit more flair. Power tenor.

20s, any ethnicity. Nervous, thin, reedy desert dweller, part of Aladdin’s band; the “Lamour.” Bari-tenor.

30s-40s, any ethnicity. Quick-witted, fast-talking, ancient genie who knows all time and place; an old-school song-and-dance man.

50s, any ethnicity. Kind-hearted, widowed ruler of Agrabah; gets so caught up in following the law and tradition that he overlooks his daughter Jasmine’s desires and gets swindled by his own vizier.

For those of you who can remember these listings are almost identical to those released for 5th Avenue's Pilot Production back in January 2011.  The only additions are "any ethnicity" and the vocal descriptions.

More interesting is who's missing.  Namely Jafar, Iago and Kassim.

Back when 5th Avenue's Casting Calls were released only Jafar was missing and the role was famously filled by Jonathan Freeman, making him the first actor from one of Disney's animated classics to bring his own character to life on stage.  Obviously nothing has been confirmed (or even rumoured) but my best guess is that Jonathan Freeman will once again be bringing Jafar to life when Aladdin hits Broadway.  Now that really would be a wish come true!

Could Jonathan Freeman be bringing Jafar to life on stage once more?
Jonathan Freeman and Don Darryl Rivera as Jafar and Iago in 5th Avenue's Pilot Production
But what about Iago and Kassim?  Does this mean that they've already been cast too?  In the 5th Avenue's Pilot Production the parts were played by Don Darryl Rivera and Brandon O'Neill and, whilst I'd love to believe that they've both already been confirmed for the roles (they did originate them after all), it seems strange that Disney Theatrical would make the rest of the original cast re-audition if this was the case.  Either way, Disney Theatrical clearly has people already in mind for these roles.  I can't find any rumours on who they might have approached to play the parts (so I'm going to continue championing the original cast), but if they are recasting then only one name comes to mind - Gilbert Gottfried!

For all the lastest news on the show, including casting, make sure you like the show on Facebook, follow @AladdinBroadway on Twitter and sign up for email updates from the show's official website!

And finally two quick updates from around the web.  Firstly The New York Times confirms that Proud of Your Boy WILL be in the show (didn't really doubt it but with the re-writes it's great to have that confirmed) and says that the expected budget for the new production is between $12 and $15 million dollars, which is significantly more than budget of the Pilot Production in 2011.  And secondly, Yahoo News' Mark Kennedy has posted an interview with Disney Theatrical's Thomas Schumacher where he says that he wants the show to have a lot of humour and a lot of heart.  If it's anything like the production I saw at the Tuacahn last year, it will certainly have both.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A Whole New World in A Whole New Way - Aladdin Comes to Broadway!

It's official!!  Disney Theatrical last night confirmed that Aladdin will open on Broadway in 2014 at the New Amsterdam Theatre!!  The show's new tagline is Broadway's New Musical Fantasy.

First things first, make sure you head over to the show's official website,, and sign up for their email updates.

Now for those who've waited long enough and don't want to wait until next spring, good news!  Both Playbill and Broadway World are reporting that Aladdin will have have it's pre-Broadway preview run at Toronto's Mirvish Theatre this November!  The show will premiere in Toronto November 13th and run through to January 12th 2014.  No dates have been announced for Aladdin's Broadway premiere other than "Spring 2014".
Both Playbill and Broadway World are reporting that, according to Disney, this version of Aladdin will be an entirely new production "featuring a new script, tunestack and a wholly original design scaled to the Broadway stage and an epic story."

Disney have confirmed that most of the creative team from Seattle's 2011 Pilot Production will be returning, along with some new additions;

Alan Menken (Composer)
Howard Ashman (Lyrics)
Tim Rice (Lyrics)
Chad Beguelin (Book and Lyrics)
Casey Nicholaw (Director/Choreographer)
Bob Crowley (Scenic Design)
Gregg Barnes (Costume Design)
Natasha Katz (Lighting Design)
Ken Travis (Sound Design)
Jim Steinmeyer (Illusion Design)
Josh Marquette (Hair Design)
Michael Kosarin (Music Supervisor/Music Director)
Danny Troob (Orchestrator)
Glen Kelly (Dance Arrangements)

Casting and ticketing information has not yet been announced (like I said at the start, make sure you sign up for Disney Theatrical's email alerts!).

I'm so excited right now!  Guess I'd better start saving for next year's holiday!  To paraphrase Joey, "Broadway baby!!" (I've been watching way too much Friends recently).  It's going to be a whole new world, hope I see you there!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Broadway Rumour Report #1

Why do I get the feeling I'm going to be doing a lot of these over the next few months? :o)

Hot on the heels of Monday's initial rumour, that Mary Poppins was to close in March to make way for Aladdin, and yesterday's confirmation that Mary Poppins would indeed end its impressive 6 year run on March 3rd, comes another rumour regarding Aladdin!

The New York Post's Michael Riedel is reporting that Aladdin is to receive an extensive re-working with the book being rewritten, Alan Menken working on new songs and six time Tony Award winning set designer Bob Crowley (Mary Poppins, Aida, Once, The Coast of Utopia, Carousel, The History Boys) being brought on board to design the new production which is said to be much more elaborate than 2011's Pilot Production in Seattle.

The report does not mention if Tony Award winning director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw and book writer/lyricist Chad Begulin are involved with the new production, but considering that they both worked on revising the production between its 5th Avenue premiere and last year's regional productions I don't see any reason to assume that they aren't involved with the upcoming Broadway production.

In another exciting development Riedel is reporting that Disney is also rewriting another of their Alan Menken musicals - the long in development The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Peter Parnell is said to be writing a new book (James Lapine wrote the original book for the Berlin production) and Alan Menken is reported to be working with Stephen Schwartz on new songs for the production.  I'll admit I'm a little sad to see the original book being replaced, I never saw the show but the cast album sounded  gorgeous and what I did see on YouTube looked incredible and very emotionally powerful.  I know the general belief is Disney felt it was too dark for a family show, but it was just so moving even on a small YouTube video that the idea of changing it does worry me a little.  I'd urge anyone reading to have a look at some of the subtitled videos on YouTube if they've still available.  Done well, I honestly think that The Hunchback of Notre Dame has the potential to be Disney's greatest show (even if my favourite will always be Aladdin) and I appreciate that they are taking the time to get it right rather than rush it to Broadway.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Broadway Beckons..?

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin in 5th Avenue's Pilot Production, Photo by Mark Kitaoka
Yesterday afternoon there was a very exciting (but equally sad) rumour reported by The New York Times.  According to "two Broadway theatre executives" Disney Theatrical's long running Mary Poppins is set to close on March 3rd to make way for the Broadway debut of Aladdin!  However, don't go booking that plane ticket just yet as it's reported that the New Amsterdam Theatre is to receive extensive renovations, which could take several months, prior to Al and his pals making their premiere in spring 2014.

Whilst it's just a rumour, this story has now been carried by pretty much all of the major Broadway news sites, such as Playbill,, Broadway World and others, including The Wrap which reports that "the Broadway production will involve a major new key player on the creative team" (though other articles have stated that it remains unclear whether or not there will be any additions to the creative team).

Most of the articles also claim that the show will be significantly overhauled from the 5th Avenue Pilot Production in Seattle in 2011 (though others have said that this also remains uncertain).  The Tuacahn, Muny and international productions last year were all based on a revised and expanded version of the original book, and each had unique staging and creative choices, so it's not unreasonable to think that further revisions will have been made based on audiences reactions to those productions (the Tuacahn had a survey on their website from Disney asking for feedback on the show).

Obviously nothing is official until Disney confirms it, but with the rumoured closing date of Mary Poppins less than 2 months away I'd expect to hear at least a denial or confirmation of that in the not too distant future. Mary Poppins is currently booking through to August but sadly that means very little (I had 20th July tickets booked for Tarzan when the show was pulled with literally 2 weeks notice) so I'd expect Disney to clear that up to give ticket buyers peace of mind - The Little Mermaid's closure was announced 2 months in advance (and that too was booking past it's closing date at the time).  We're already past the 2 month point for Mary Poppins, so if the rumour is true expect to hear something sooner rather than later.

Sad times for Mary Poppins (I remember seeing it back when it was running in London and had a great time), but fantastic news for Aladdin.  Hopefully Disney can get as much of the original Seattle cast back together as possible, they deserve first shot at this and I'd love them to be on the CD!

And finally, a quick apology (again!) for the lack of updates.  The holidays just crept up on me this year and the updates I meant to do just kept getting pushed back.  I'm hoping that this weekend I can get caught up with all the news from the international productions that I missed (I hear both were fantastic - congratulations to all involved - and that the show was so popular it's going back to Denmark this year!).  Happy New Year everyone, I hope you all had a truly magical holiday season.

UPDATE - Well that was a lot faster than I expected!  Mary Poppins' official site has confirmed that the show will play its final Broadway performance on March 3rd.  All I can say is that my heart goes out to the cast and crew of this great show and I wish them all the very best for the remainder of their run and for the future.