Monday, 17 November 2014

Broadway News Round Up 24

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Welcome to another weekly news round up for Broadway's Aladdin!

The biggest event this week was the live AMA with Adam Jacobs, James Monroe Iglehart and Jonathan Freeman!  The Q&A with the stars was a lot a fun and revealed several behind the scenes tidbits along with plenty of hilarious stories!  The official Disney Blog has the highlights or you can read the full Q&A over at Reddit.  I'd definitely recommend reading the full thing!

Aladdin's book writer and lyricist Chad Beguelin and Disney Theatrical's Thomas Schumacher made the OUT100 2014 List this week, where the year's most compelling people pay homage to pivotal moments in LGBT history.  The article links 2 moments - the November 25th 1992 premiere of Aladdin in cinemas and the 26th February 2014 debut of Aladdin on Broadway.  The short piece also contains a very thought provoking comment by Chad Beguelin that gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation of Proud of Your Boy.  I've read before that Beauty and the Beast's Mob Song is speaking about AIDS (which Howard was tragically dying of when he wrote the song), but I'd never considered the added level to Proud of Your Boy that would come from being gay.  Howard Ashman's talent is nothing short of incredible.  To be able to write songs that not only drive the narrative forward and perfectly fit the characters they are written for but at the same time to reflect his own life, his own feelings and emotions, is simply astounding.

Do you remember's Justin "Squigs" Robertson's portrait done in honour of the show's opening night?  If not here's a quick reminder;

You like it?  Well now you can officially get the T-Shirt!  You can pick yours up either in person at the New Amsterdam Theatre or at Aladdin's online store!

And on the subject of, CONGRATULATIONS to James Monroe Iglehart who came 4th in's "10 Must-See Performances on Broadway Right Now"!

Broadway World is reporting that Aladdin's Yurel Echezeretta took part in the Sueno Pop: Pulso Latino concert last weekend.  The event celebrated Latin pop music and featured a host of stars from both Broadway and TV.

Gavin Doyle of DisneyDose posted a special story on Inside the Magic about a recent trip to Broadway, including his stage door experience at Disney's Aladdin.  As a special bonus the article also includes the Disney Dose podcast where Gavin interviewed by Adam Jacobs and James Monroe Iglehart!  I've posted a link to the interview before (it was originally released back in September) but if you've not heard it then it's well worth checking out!

The Daily Item has posted a heart warming story about a young girl who's dreams came true as the Make A Wish Foundation took her and her mother on a magical holiday to New York City, including a trip to Aladdin with a behind the scenes meeting with the cast.  I just love stories like this and I wish Lily all the best for her hospital evaluation this week.

And finally, Playbill is reporting that Andrew Keenan-Bolger (who played Omar in 5th Avenue's 2011 Pilot Production) is re-teaming with Aladdin Director/Choreographer Casey Nicholaw for the new musical Tuck Everlasting.  The Premiere Production will take place in Atlanta at the Alliance Theatre from January 21st - February 22nd 2015.  Whilst dates have not yet been announced for Broadway it is believed that the production is Broadway bound so watch this space!

I'll come back to the reviews in a second, first take a look at this;

It seems stupid to say this as the show has been running for a few weeks but seeing that footage it actually feels real now!  And it looks fabulous!
Ok, as you all know The Hunchback of Notre Dame officially opened at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse on 9th November so all last week the reviews have been pouring in and, overall, they're very positive!  Here's what the critics have been saying;
Variety - "Scott Schwartz and the thesps overcome these traps.  Page's gradual descent into unmitigated evil is believable, complex and blessedly underplayed.  Renee's sizzling gypsy - choreographed with lighthearted artistry by Chase Brock - resists cliché through genuine vulnerability and charm.  And Arden is a revelation in the title role.  His delicately communicative physicality ... is wholly of a piece with a remarkably wide emotional range.  The laughs he earns are warm and in context, while his "I want" songs are the clarion calls of a tortured soul, devoid of any "American Idol"-influenced vocal pyrotechnics.  He is splendid."
U-T San Diego - "Hunchback is the rare such show that actually earns its grandeur, thanks mostly to the far-from-cartoonish humanity of its central characters."
La Jolla Light - "The music, lyrics, performances, direction, set design and costumes assemble into a majestic production of a classic story and bring it to life.  The Playhouse and all its contributors can be proud of their Hunchback of Notre Dame, a stage show that audience members will yearn to see again."
San Diego Gay & Lesbian News - "This version is large in concept and execution.  The impressive set is matched by fine actors with excellent voices ... But the heart of the show is Arden's Quasimodo, whose loneliness can be felt in the back row and whose voice on songs like "Out There and "Made of Stone" will break your heart as well ... Broadway is not in the offing yet, but this show has all the essential elements for a successful run there." 
LA Weekly - "Visually, the show is stunning ... the cast and the choir sound pristine" however "it doesn't offer anything new to the contemporary theatrical landscape".
Showbiz SoCal - "It's arguably one of Disney's most sophisticated adaptations, and one of Alan Menken's more sophisticated scores ... The direction of Scott Schwartz has many layers, and he tells the story with a great balance, always keeping the momentum moving forward so that when the beautiful melodies come in, they land comfortably at the right moments."
And it's not just the professionals.  The Playbill Collector posted her review of the show saying "Nothing was lacking from this masterpiece."
In fact the only out really negative review is that of the LA Weekly, the rest are (as seen above) largely positive with some constructive criticisms.  But to be honest the LA Weekly review lost me when it criticised the French setting as "reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast".  It just felt like it was reaching too much to find elements "borrowed" from other shows (its central criticism of Hunchback).  All in all, it's a very positive start for this new production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the cast and creative team have plenty to celebrate.  If the response in New Jersey is as positive as this then hopefully we'll see another fast transition to Broadway like we did with Newsies.
In other Hunchback news;
Hunchback of Notre Dame's Samantha Massell (who also played Princess Jasmine in Aladdin at The Muny) will be taking part in A Very Broadway Holiday! at 54 Below on 30th December.  Ticket details and more information can be found here!
SACRA/PROFANA member Rachel Moore shared the details of her first day as part of Notre Dame's choir with  U-T San Diego in the wonderful Diary of a "Hunchback of Notre Dame" Chorus Member.  It's a fascinating insight and well worth a read.
That's all for this week!  Have a great week and I'll be back at the weekend with another news round up.

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