Monday, 30 June 2014

Happy Birthday Iago

Don Darryl Rivera at Aladdin's Opening Night, Photo by Broadway World
Ok, you have to imagine the post title read in Jafar's voice because it just sounds cooler!

Happy 30th birthday Don!  I hope you have an amazing day!

Artist Spotlight - Gregg Barnes

It's been a while since Disney posted one of these so I was really pleased to see a new addition to the Artist Spotlight video series released last week.  This time the focus is on Gregg Barnes and the absolutely stunning costumes that he created for the show.

This one's worth watching in HD just to see the incredible detail in the costumes.  They're just beautiful.

Broadway News Round Up 9

To start this week's news round up here's one final piece on the Tony Awards and this one is rather special as it's written by Aladdin's own Marisha Wallace - True Story: I'm a Black Girl from North Carolina & I Performed at the 2014 Tony Awards!  Marisha is part of the ensemble and one of Jasmine's attendants, but if you're really lucky you may also get to see her playing the part of Babkak (I love this as it shows incredible gender equality by Disney for these supporting roles and it's also a nice call back to Howard Ashman's original treatment where there was a female member of Aladdin's gang).

Continuing the theme of great female performances, Courtney Reed took part in Broadway Sessions on May 23rd and Broadway World have now posted a video of her singing Gravity.

The New York Times has published an article focusing on the work of Glen Kelly that's well worth a read.  Glen Kelly provided the dance music arrangements for Aladdin and this article provides a fascinating insight into an area that I admittedly had no knowledge about.

We Blog the World has posted a short fan review of the show.  They even used the photo manip of Genie holding aloft a Tony Award that I made which, I have to admit, is kinda cool!

Emerson College's Entertainment Monthly has also posted a positive review, calling James Monroe Iglehart's Genie "one key player that elevates it to Broadway stardom", Adam Jacobs "everything you want in the character of Aladdin" and Don Darryl Rivera "a standout ... his comedic moments have the entire audience laughing out loud".

Last week Merwin Foard took the stage as Sultan Hamed.  Since I posted a photo of him as Jafar I figured I'd post this one as well (any excuse to post a photo!)

And finally another Vacation Alert!  Adam Jacobs will be away from 7th-14th July, and a quick reminder that Courtney Reed will be away from tomorrow (1st July) until 6th July.

Ok, one last thing!  On a more light hearted note JMI's Genie topped's weekend poll as the most wanted guest at a 4th July BBQ party!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Broadway News Round Up 8

Firstly, sorry there was no news round up last week, real life got in the way.  That said, it's time to pick up where I left off last time... When was that again?  Oh yeah, that was Tony Sunday when a certain Genie named James Monroe Iglehart won a TONY AWARD!!!!

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann
I know I already did a big post on the Tonys but I just had to say it one more time!

Plus there's a lot of stuff I didn't post in my initial coverage of the awards, so here's a quick Tony Award news round up;

Courtney Reed talks with George Brescia about her Disney Princess pink dressing room.

Just before the main event Broadway World posted rehearsal footage from Friend Like Me's Tony Award performance along with a brief interview with Chad Beguelin

Playbill has a replay of the Tony Awards Red Carpet that you can watch right here.

NY Times' Arts Beat gives a running commentary of the evening (and Friend Like Me a score of 31 on a scale of 0 to 10!)

Courtney Reed posted a reaction video on Instagram (this you just have to see!)

Playbill posted a write up of the winners, noting "Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical was presented to an ecstatic James Monroe Iglehart for his hilarious performance as the Genie in Aladdin, and he made sure audiences would remember it by spicing it up with an effervescent "praise shout" in celebration."

The NY Times also posted a full write up of the show which included some wonderful comments from JMI; "The praise shout was not planned," he said.  "If it's planned, it's not real.  I had to give praise because my mama told me to keep God first and blessings would happen."  He also added, "The Tonys is the most dignified awards show, and I wanted to undignify it a little."  Speaking of not too dignified, Mr. Iglehart said he would not be having dinner at a fancy restaurant Sunday night.  He and his wife were going to hit McDonald's because it keeps him humble, he said.  Then "we go back to our house, and we kick it with our cats, and this lets us know that this is still real life." (and he posted the proof of his McDonald's on Twitter).  LA Times also shared some comments from James following his win.

San Jose Mercury News has posted an article on James' Tony win entitled "Cal State East Bay Grad Nabs Tony Award"

Courtney Reed featured on Vogue Italia as part of their Tony Awards coverage, looking gorgeous in a stunning blue dress.  It's no wonder that she and James both made the New York Observer's Best Dressed List and Courtney made it onto The Gloss' list as well.

With the official Tony Awards over wanted to give out a few more, including the "Disney Dudes Clean Up Nice Award" to Adam Jacobs and Chad Beguelin and "The Most Blinged-Out Dude Award" to James Monroe Iglehart (who looks awesome with his Tony!).

As for JMI?  He's feeling a little crazy right now :o)

I'm not sure if I missed this or if it was awarded after I went to bed but watching the winners video above I just realised that Aladdin's Natasha Katz won Best Lighting Design of a Play for her work on The Glass Menagerie so congratulations Natasha!  And congratulations to all the other winners as well.

And on a lighter note - following the Tony's Adam Jacobs gain a lot of new fans, so many that he took to Twitter to thank them for crashing his website!  Saying "Thanks for crashing my website fans!! Bandwidth exceeded. We're back online now. #UltimateCompliment #TonyExposure"

Ok, moving on from the Tonys.  I mentioned two weeks ago (wow time flies) that Merwin Foard was playing the role of Jafar as Jonathan Freeman was off that Sunday, well here's a great picture of him along with the fabulous Don Darryle Rivera as Iago that he posted on Twitter;

If you want to see Merwin as Jafar then be sure to check out the show on the 22nd or 24th June when he'll be playing the villainous Vizier again and on 26th June he'll be trading black robes for white and taking to the stage as the Sultan (you have to have a good memory to be a Stand By!)  And if you've seen Merwin and wondered why his voice sounded familiar it's because he was the singing voice of Aladdin's father Cassim in Aladdin and the King of Thieves!

The Seattle Times has posted a fantastic piece on Don Darryl Rivera and Brandon O'Neill who were both part of Aladdin's Pilot Production in 2011 and made the leap from regional stage to the Great White Way with Aladdin earlier this year.  The Seattle Times also published a 2nd piece looking at Seattle talent in all of the Tony nominated shows which also featured DDR and Brandon O'Neill.

WDW Radio has published an exclusive interview with ensemble member Daisy Hobbs who has been with the show since 2011's Pilot Production.

Buzzfeed has included Aladdin in it's countdown of the top "16 Spectacular Musical Numbers from the 2013-2014 Broadway Season".  Yes, it's Friend Like Me, and yes it's number one!!

Playbill has posted an interview with Vocal Coach Liz Caplan

On 16th June Courtney Reed and Michael James Scott (Stand By Genie and Babkak) both took part in Broadway World's concert series performance The Lord & The Master celebrating the works of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim.  The event was live streamed so hopefully some videos of the event will soon be posted to the Joe's Pub YouTube channel.

Playbill reports that Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Omar from Aladdin's 5th Avenue Pilot Production) and Michael Midlin (a Swing/Dance Captain in the Broadway production) are amongst the Broadway performers supporting the Heart NYC Gallery's photo exhibit seeking to help place LGBT foster children in new adoptive homes.  The event is part of National Pride Month and runs through 20th June.

Disney's official blog, Oh My Disney, teamed up with Pixar animator and singer Nick Pitera (who is best known for his YouTube musical tributes) to create a one-man tribute to Aladdin.

Ensemble member Andrew Cao talks with StageLight about being a father and on Broadway.

ABC News has posted a short video of James Monroe Iglehart meeting the kids of Disney Musicals in Schools and, hopefully, inspiring the next generation of Disney's Broadway stars.

Last night James Monroe Iglehart joined Julie James at 54 Below as her guest on The Julie James Show.  Hopefully some videos will be released soon!

What else happened this week?  Oh yeah, this came out!!

Sure I've had the digital copy for weeks now but it's so good to finally have the physical CD in hand with a beautiful foreword by Alan Menken, a summary of the show by Chad Beguelin and, of course, all the lyrics!  And to celebrate Disney Music released a very special video of Adam Jacobs and Alan Menken recording one of the album's bonus tracks;

Oh how I wish I could sing like that!

As I reported earlier this week, to promote the launch of the physical cast album the stars of the show took part in a special signing event at Barnes and Noble.  Fortunately Broadway World  and Playbill were on hand to take photos of the event!

And now for some upcoming events!!  Adam Jacobs will be taking part in tomorrow night's The Broadway Musicals of 1990-2014, part of Town Hall's Broadway by the Year series.  More information and ticket details can be found at Broadway World.  And James Monroe Iglehart has joined the cast of Black Stars of the Great White Way along with Clifton Davis (Sultan), the concert takes place tomorrow night at Carnegie Hall and you can find more information and tickets here.  All the best to Adam, James and Clifton for tomorrow night!!

Vacation Alert - Courtney Reed will be away from 1st July to 6th July, Jonathan Freeman is away 22nd and 24th June and Clifton Davis is away 26th June.

And finally, the next block of tickets for Aladdin is now on sale!  Tickets can now be bought through to 4th January 2015 from!  Speaking of tickets, D23 is hosting another Members Night at Aladdin for its Gold and Silver members on 27th September.  Tickets for the event are $199.50 per person and include a VIP ticket (premium seating, a complimentary non-alcoholic beverage in a commemorative cup, souvenir lanyard with pin, exclusive gift), a D23 members gift and, best of all, a Q&A with the cast after the show!  Tickets go on sale at 10am tomorrow.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Aladdin CD Signing

Today sees the release of the physical Cast Recording of Disney's Aladdin and to celebrate four of the stars will be taking part in a CD signing this Friday at Barnes and Noble's Citigroup Centre store in New York (160 East 54th Street at 3rd Avenue).

Adam Jacobs (Aladdin), Courtney Reed (Jasmine), James Monroe Iglehart (Genie) and Jonathan Freeman (Jafar) will all be at Barnes and Noble from 3pm to 4:30pm for the signing so if you're in the area make sure to check it out!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Aladdin Celebrates 100 Magical Performances on Broadway!

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Deen Van Meer
Last night Aladdin celebrated its 100th magical performance on Broadway!

I just want to say a massive congratulations to the cast and crew who bring this show to life every night at the New Amsterdam Theatre.  Keep making magic everyone, here's to the next 100!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

James Monroe Iglehart - Tony Award Winner!

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann (now with added Tony)
He did it!!  After a fantastic performance of Friend Like Me James Monroe Iglehart took to the stage a second time, this time a Tony Award Winner, to accept the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for his portrayal of Genie in Aladdin.

It was 2am here in the UK and I was sat up wide awake with a massive grin on my face.  I'm so happy right now!!  I'll update this post properly tomorrow with JMI's acceptance speech and (hopefully) the performance of Friend Like Me, I just wanted to post this now!

James - congratulations, I know this is a dream come true for you and I'm so happy for you.  The award couldn't have gone to a nicer or more talented guy, you truly deserve this.  Congratulations!!!

And here's the update I promised!
The night started on a carpet, since the Tony's didn't have a magic carpet a red one had to do;

The gorgeous Courtney Reed (along with Adam Jacobs and Chad Beguelin) joined JMI on the red carpet on The Tony Awards online second screen;

Then the one and only Hugh Jackman bounced his way through the opening number, greeting many of the nominated casts as he went (including cast members from Aladdin as the orchestra plays A Whole New World);

After the first interval came the performance I was waiting for as JMI and the cast of Aladdin danced like they were on the Tonys!

Then, finally, came the moment of truth;

Get him a doggy bag, he's takin' it home!!

James Monroe Iglehart took home the award and celebrated with a Praise Shout, the first I've ever seen and probably the first on the Tonys as well!

And at the end of the night James and the rest of the 2014 Tony Award winners joined Hugh Jackman on stage for one last celebration;

Disney's never had a winner like him!

Good Luck at the Tony Awards!!

Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Deen Van Meer
Just a quick post to say good luck to James Monroe Iglehart, Casey Nicholaw, Alan Menken, Chad Beguelin and the entire Aladdin family at the Tony Awards tonight.

This is the best show on Broadway, I've seen the energy and the passion you put into this each and every night, I know how much work went into this show to transform it from Seattle's Pilot Production to Broadway's Tony nominated mega-hit.  You've all earned this moment, I hope you enjoy tonight and give the Tony's a show stopping performance that they'll never forget.  Whatever happens "you'll always be a prince to me".

So, let's make some magic!!

Courtney Reed, James Monroe Iglehart and More Take Home Awards!

Whilst the Tony Awards are still a few hours away, Aladdin has already brought several rewards this week.

I reported on Monday, James Monroe Iglehart took home the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, but that's not all.  On Tuesday he followed it up by bringing home the Broadway World Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical!

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

And JMI wasn't the only one celebrating a BWW Award win as Casey Nicholaw and Gregg Barnes took the awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design respectively.  If you've seen the show then you know that all three of these awards are well deserved.  James brings the house down and the audience to their feet every night with Friend Like Me and Casey's fantastic choreography plays a big part in that (and is equally fantastic in the rest of the show as is JMI) and even if you've only seen pictures you know that Gregg Barnes' costumes are simply breathtaking.  A full list of winners can be seen at Broadway World.

Then on Wednesday there was even more reason to celebrate as Courtney Reed won's Audience Choice Award for Favorite Breakthrough Performance (Female) for her portrayal of Princess Jasmine!

Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

You can see Courtney and the other winners deliver their "Fill-in-the-Blanks" acceptance speeches in this video but be warned of some strong language (it's censored but you can make it out, though Courtney manages to maintain her Disney princess innocence).

Massive congratulations to you all on your well deserved awards!  Now go make some magic at the Tonys tonight!!

Broadway News Round Up 7

Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

As the countdown to the Tony Awards reaches its climax it's been a busy week for the cast and crew of Aladdin as they rehearsed for their Tony Awards performance (believed to be the show stopping Friend Like Me) in addition to their regular 8 show week.  And with Aladdin up for 5 awards, including the much coveted Best Musical award, there's been plenty of news to keep up with as well!

Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed are taking part in's Ask a Star so if you have a question for Broadway's Aladdin and Jasmine then this is your chance!  Click the link and ask away!

In the wake of last week's cast album debut, Broadway Direct have posted a short review of the album along with the albums of other new musicals from the 2013/2014 season.

Adam Jacobs was award the Fauxny Award for "Best Performance by Teeth in a Broadway Actor's Mouth" (I said in my review he had a winning smile!) and Aladdin also won "Best Magic Trick Stolen from Another Show that's been Open for the Last 25 Years" for the Magic Phantom Chair that's used in Friend Like Me and "Best Attempt at Making Totally Suspect Cultural References and Appropriation Like, Totally Not a Problem, Dude".  As you can probably tell the awards just for a laugh and aren't supposed to be taken seriously!

Adam Jacobs tells what he loves about the city, and so does James Monroe Iglehart.

James Monroe Iglehart talks with USA Today during an interval about the show and about Tony buzz!

Writer and Lyricist Chad Beguelin talks with about Aladdin's long road to Broadway and turning the show around from "cute" to Tony Award Nominee.

Entertainment Weekly reports that for the week ending 1st June Aladdin was the highest grossing of the new shows, "playing to full houses and nearly 88 percent of its potential gross in the cavernous 1,723-seat New Amsterdam Theatre" making it the only new show in the top 5 performers!

Broadway World Toronto looks at Toronto's connection to the 2014 Tony Awards, including Aladdin which played it's pre-Broadway run at Toronto's Ed Mirvish Theatre.

Deadline talks with Thomas Schumacher and Alan Menken about Aladdin, Tony Awards and Howard Ashman.

Broadway Spotted and Sioux City Journal have posted short reviews of the show and a new fan review can be read here.

USA Today offers their opinion on who should win and who will win the at the Tony Awards, Aladdin is mentioned a lot in the "should win" category, but for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical they had this to say; "James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin's exuberant, show-stopping Genie, is this year's safest bet."  Also putting Aladdin in the "should win" category for Best Musical is whilst the Daily Record gives JMI as their pick for the win as well as giving a nod to Casey Nicholaw for Choreography.

Disney's Official Blog talks with James Monroe Iglehart about living his dream as the Genie and he takes the Oh My Disney Quiz (I may have posted the quiz before!)

Jonathan Smith talks with City Pulse about being a substitute percussionist for Broadway's Aladdin.

Broadway World has reported that Aladdin's Marisha Wallace will be taking part in Broadway Sings for Pride later this month.

Simply Showbiz has posted an interview with Courtney Reed and Adam Jacobs (and it sounds like more interviews are coming up!)

And that's it for this week!  Tonight all eyes will be on the Tony Awards, hosted by Hugh Jackman and featuring performances by the casts of all of this year's Best Musical and Best Musical Revival nominees and more.  The show starts at 8pm ET on CBS with online coverage starting at 6pm ET with live footage from the Red Carpet arrivals on  You can find more information about the Tony Second Screen (including the Red Carpet and Pressroom Cam) here.  For international fans like me you can find broadcast information here or simply watch live on the Tony Awards website.  I'll be watching live and hopefully I'll have some great news to post in the early hours of the morning (the Awards start at 1am here, it's gonna be a long night)!

See Merwin Foard as Jafar Today!

Just a quick reminder that at today's matinee performance of Aladdin Merwin Foard will be taking to the stage at the New Amsterdam Theatre as the villainous Jafar!

It's not often that you get advance notice of when a Standby will be going on, so if you want to see Merwin's portrayal of Aladdin's wicked Vizier this is your chance!

Good luck Merwin, I'm sure you'll do great!

Monday, 2 June 2014

James Monroe Iglehart Wins Drama Desk Award!

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann
The cast of Aladdin must be proud of their boy today as last night James Monroe Iglehart took home the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Genie in Aladdin!!

You can watch the Awards in full, including the red carpet arrivals, at Theater Mania and I've embedded the Awards ceremony below (JMI's award starts just before the 7 minute mark);

I just want to say a massive congratulations to James on this well deserved reward, it couldn't have gone to a nicer guy.  You put your heart and soul into this role every night, you've totally earned this.  So happy for you.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Broadway News Round Up 6

Well the big news this week was the digital release of Aladdin's Original Broadway Cast Recording and Disney have released a new video to celebrate the event - In the Recording Studio

And if that's not enough to convince you to pick up a copy (assuming you haven't already), Disney are currently streaming the entire album on the show's official website!  If you like what you hear then please make sure to pick up a copy either digitally or when the CD is released later this month.

But of course that wasn't the only news this week.

NY Times' Arts Beat reported a record week from Broadway, stating that "Among the new shows this spring, Disney's "Aladdin" was the top selling musical with $1,207,953" and ""Aladdin" and the new revival of "Les Miserables" have been vying week-to-week for the No. 1 title among new musical productions".  That's some great company to be in!

Examiner have posted a new review for the show, calling Aladdin "a great addition to The Great White Way".

Variety looks at Aladdin and the legacy of Howard Ashman.  Howard Ashman, along with Alan Menken, helped to revitalised Disney animation in the late 80s and early 90s, returning to the studio to it's musical and fairy tale roots and in the process inspired a generation.  Though Howard sadly passed away in 1991, before Beauty and the Beast was even released in cinemas and whilst Aladdin was still in production, his legacy endures today.  Twenty three years after his death all three of his Disney classics have gone full circle, being adapted for the Broadway stage that initially inspired them, with Howard Ashman receiving posthumous Tony nominations for both Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin (which he could still win!), but that is not his most incredible legacy.  His greatest achievement is his inspiration to others, including Chad Beguelin, who worked with Alan Menken to restore Howard's work and bring Aladdin to stage, and Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the song writers behind Disney's latest musical megahit Frozen who are now themselves writing the songs that this generation will grow up singing just as Ashman and Menken did for mine.

And speaking of Howard's legacy, here's a great interview Chad Beguelin did with Out about restoring Howard's songs and vision in Aladdin.

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

James Monroe Iglehart took part in The New York Times' In The Performance series Tony Awards edition, performing a jazzy cool-cat rendition of Friend Like Me.  Now, if you're anything like me then you've probably heard JMI sing this song like 20 times since Tuesday but this is well worth a listen as he gives it a different feel to the cast album/stage version, one better suited to the more intimate environment he's performing in.

As the countdown to the Tony Awards continues James also features in a few special videos;

The Tony Awards Tie the Knot (watch out for an appearance by Andrew Keenan-Bolger as well and no one is saying how the carpet flies!)

CUNY TV's Pat Collins and 4 time Tony Award Winner Harvey Fierstein host a special Tony Preview as they discuss several of the major categories for the upcoming awards.  Watch out for interviews with both Alan Menken and James Monroe Iglehart;

WNYC talks with James Monroe Iglehart and Disney Theatrical's Thomas Schumacher about Aladdin

Whilst Aladdin didn't take anything home at the Outer Circle Critics Awards or Drama League Awards, the Camp Broadway's 2014 Family Favorite Awards have declared Aladdin to be both Best Musical and Best Show for a First Time Theatregoer.  They also declared Adam Jacobs Matinee Idol of the Year and James Monroe Iglehart to be Showstopper of the Year (naturally!)

Last but certainly not least on the subject of awards, tonight is the Drama Desk Awards and you can watch live at Theater Mania from 7:15pm Eastern (Red Carpet, Awards Ceremony from 8:00pm).  Good luck everyone!!

I guess I'd better get an Instagram account as this week Aladdin joined the photo website.  Many of the cast already have their own pages and you can now find the show's official page here;

And finally, yesterday Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed took part in Schmackary's Broadway Bakes fund raiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, spending 2 hours serving up delicious cookies for their fans... and co-stars as Don Darryl Rivera just happened to stop by ;o)  You can see photos from the event on their Instagram pages (yeah, I definitely need to get one of those!)

That's all for this week!