Sunday, 9 February 2014

Countdown to Broadway - St. Louis 2012

Last week I took a look back at the Tuacahn's 2012 production of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical, this week it's the turn of The Muny's production from that same summer as I continue my countdown to Broadway.

On 8th October 2011 The Muny announced the line up for its 94th season stating "Following upon the fantastic success of The Muny production of The Little Mermaid, The Muny presents its premiere of Disney's Aladdin."  The Muny production of Aladdin was to run from 5-13th July 2012.  Along with the Tuacahn Amphitheatre, The Muny was one of only two venues selected by Disney to present a regional production of Aladdin in 2012.

Whilst it was unsurprising that Disney Theatrical chose two theatres they'd worked with before to showcase this revised version of Aladdin (both The Muny and the Tuacahn had presented The Little Mermaid as part of their 2011 seasons), it's interesting to note that both the theatres chosen were outdoor amphitheatres.  I'm not sure if there was anything to this beyond previous working relationships or if Disney thought that the outdoor venues would be able to add to the show in unique ways which couldn't be achieved in a traditional theatre, such as both shows using live camels in their openings, or maybe they felt that the amphitheatre venues could reach a larger audience (The Muny's capacity is an incredible 11,000 people).

In April 2012 The Muny announced that Gary Griffin would be making his Muny debut as the Director of Aladdin whilst Choreographer Alex Sanchez and Music Director Greg Anthony, who both worked on The Muny's production of The Little Mermaid, would be returning to their roles for Aladdin.  Then, at the end of May, the cast was officially announced;

Robin de Jesus as Aladdin
Samantha Massell as Princess Jasmine
John Tartaglia as Genie
Thom Sesma as Jafar
Curtis Holbrook as Iago
Eddie Korbich as Babkak
Jason Graae as Omar
Francis Jue as Kassim
Ken Page as Sultan

Robin de Jesus as Aladdin and John Tartaglia as Genie, Photo by The Muny

The Muny's short run saw a flurry of media releases, Playbill and Broadway World both posted photo galleries from the show's opening night, KSDK News posted a video preview which included interviews with the cast and some footage from the show, and The Muny posted several videos to their own YouTube channel featuring behind the scenes rehearsal footage, an interview with Director Gary Griffin, an interview with John Tartaglia (Genie), an interview with Robin de Jesus (Aladdin), and a special video featuring footage from opening night;

Like the Tuacahn, The Muny's production of Aladdin received some fantastic reviews.  Harry Hamm from CBS St. Louis gave the show 5 stars (written review here, audio review here), calling it "an immensely entertaining, funny, clever, hip show"St. Louis Today gave a slightly more mixed review, citing problems with the staging of A Whole New World (which I think can be forgiven for a 2 week production) and a lull in the first act, but still went on to call the show "beautifully staged, performed with vigor and bursting with surprises".  And finally, KDHX's review called the show "everything a stage musical should be" and "a treasure of fun and surprises for everyone".

Thom Sesma as Jafar and Curtis Holbrook as Iago, Photo by The Muny

During the course of its short run The Muny's production of Aladdin was the host to a very special guest as writer/lyricist Chad Beguelin (a Centralia native himself) returned home to see the show.  At the time he was asked if the show was heading to Broadway to which he replied "It's always a possibility."

Samantha Massell as Princess Jasmine and Ensemble, Photo by The Muny
The Muny's Aladdin proved to be incredibly popular with CBS St. Louis reporting that it was The Muny's best selling show during their 2012 season, selling a remarkable 74,857 tickets over just 9 shows!  It was also award winning, with star Samantha Massell being voted "Best Theater Discovery St. Louis 2012" by St. Louis River Front Times in their annual "Best Of Awards".

So it went short and sweet but one thing's for sure, the audiences loved it;


1 comment:

  1. Hi all,

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