Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Wish Finally Granted - Aladdin Opens on Broadway!

It's finally here!  Tonight Aladdin opens on Broadway!!

I want to say good luck to everyone involved, but that doesn't feel right.  You don't need luck, you've earned this.  It's been a long road to Broadway for this show and now all your hard work is paying off.  This is your moment so enjoy it and make some magic.  I hope all your Broadway wishes come true.

To celebrate Aladdin's Broadway debut here are some new production pictures courtesy of Disney Theatrical.

Arabian Nights - Cast of Aladdin, Photo by Deen Van Meer

A Million Miles Away - Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Deen Van Meer

Cave of Wonders - Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Deen Van Meer

Prince Ali - Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Deen Van Meer

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Countdown to Broadway - Toronto 2013/2014

It was August 2012, following the successful Pilot Production at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre in 2011 Disney had been true to their word and had licensed Aladdin to both regional and international theatres.  The Tuacahn's production was half way through its record breaking 5 month run, The Muny's production had just finished the previous month (becoming the best selling show of the season) and European and Asian Premieres had been announced for later in the year.  Then, on Sunday 12th August, Alan Menken played to an intimate audience at a special D23 Destination D event.  At the close of the show, introducing Somebody's Got Your Back Alan says "you're going to be now among the very first to hear a song, a new song, from the Aladdin show that's coming to Broadway."

Thanks to Stitch Kingdom (and James who recorded it) you can hear the announcement, and Alan singing Somebody's Got Your Back and Proud of Your Boy, here;

It would be January 2013 before the official announcement came.  On January 7th  The New York Times ran a rumour that Mary Poppins, which had been running on Broadway since 2006, was to close in March to make way for Aladdin which would make its Broadway debut in Spring 2014 with the New Amsterdam being renovated between the two shows.  The very next day Disney confirmed that Mary Poppins would indeed close on 3rd March 2013 and on 22nd January it was officially confirmed, Aladdin was going to Broadway!  Following a preview run in Toronto at the Ed Mirvish Theatre from 1st November 2013 through 5th January 2014, Aladdin was to make its Broadway Premiere at the New Amsterdam Theatre in Spring 2014.

It was reported that this would be an entirely new production of Aladdin "featuring a new script, tunestack and a wholly original design scaled to the Broadway stage and an epic story" and that most of the original creative team from 5th Avenue's Pilot Production would be returning along with a few new additions;

Alan Menken (Composer)
Howard Ashman (Lyrics)
Tim Rice (Lyrics)
Chad Beguelin (Book and Lyrics)
Casey Nicholaw (Director and 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)

At the same time the show's official website (then went live, along with Facebook and Twitter accounts, debuting the show's new tagline Aladdin: Broadway's New Musical Fantasy, and the following week the casting calls went out for both principals and chorus singers and dancers.  Jafar's absence from the casting calls was our first hint that Jonathan Freeman would once again be bringing the character to life on stage, but the absence of Iago and Kassim was, at the time, a little more confusing.  Happily the roles would both go to original cast members Don Darryl Rivera and Brandon O'Neill, but that's getting a bit ahead of myself!

February saw the Mirvish Theatre launch their webpage for Aladdin: The New Musical Fantasy with the above poster and the banner used at the top of this post and, in an interview with Playbill, Alan Menken revealed that he and Chad Beguelin had written a new song for Jafar (which we now know to be Diamond in the Rough).

Priority tickets for the Toronto run of Aladdin finally went on sale at the end of May with general sales starting early the following month.  As well as general ticket sales, June also saw the release of the teaser trailer for the Toronto run;

In August another D23 event offered fans a small sneak preview of the show.  As part of the D23 Expo a special Broadway and Beyond concert was held to showcase the music of Disney Theatrical's shows both past and present, the night ended with a special look to the future as the cast performed the new song Somebody's Got Your Back from Aladdin.  Though the event was no cameras allowed footage did hit the net.  Out of respect for Disney I didn't post the video here but I did post this image from the footage, our first look at the new and improved Broadway logo for the show;

The Toronto production would continue to use the earlier logo and the tagline "The New Musical Fantasy" or, simply, "The New Musical" but from here on the Broadway production would be "The New Musical Comdey" or "Broadway's New Musical Comedy".

Before the month was over the Aladdin marquee was raised at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.

And on 29th August 2013 the official website received a makeover featuring the new logo and artwork as it was announced that Aladdin: The New Musical Comedy would begin its Broadway previews on 26th February 2014 with the official opening night expected to be 20th March 2014.

Casting rumours grew stronger in September as the show prepared to begin rehearsals.  Whilst there were plenty of rumours going round two really stood out and both ended up being true.  The first was that Adam Jacobs, who originated the role of Aladdin in Seattle, would be returning to the title role.  A press release for Scott Siegel's Broadway Ballyhoo! credited Adam as "the star in the title role of the new Disney musical Aladdin".  The second was that Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who originated the role of Omar in Seattle, would not be returning.  This was based on Andrew being confirmed as part of the cast of the Off Broadway play Family Fortunes which was to run at the same time as Aladdin's Toronto run.

The announcement we were all waiting for came on 16th September 2013 as the cast began rehearsals and Disney finally revealed who would be starring in Broadway's Aladdin;

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin
Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine
James Monroe Iglehart as Genie
Jonathan Freeman as Jafar
Don Darryl Rivera as Iago
Brian Gonzales as Babkak
Jonathan Schwartz as Omar
Brandon O'Neill as Kassim
Clifton Davis as Sultan

Merwin Foard and Michael James Scott were announced as standbys for several principals and the ensemble was confirmed to include Tia Altinay, Mike Cannon, Andrew Cao, Lauryn Ciardullo, Joshua Dela Cruz, Yurel Echezarreta, Daisy Hobbs, Donald Jones Jr., Adam Kaokept, Nikki Long, Stanley Martin, Brandt Martinez , Michael Mindlin, Rhea Patterson, Bobby Pestka, Khori Petinaud, Ariel Reid, Jennifer Rais, Trent Saunders, Jaz Sealy, Dennis Stowe, Marisha Wallace and Bud Weber.

For me, the best part of the announcement was the return of so many of the original Seattle principal cast.  As the original cast I felt they deserved to have the chance to bring the show to Broadway and, having missed the original production of the show, I can't wait to finally see them in these roles on the Broadway stage.

Following a month of rehearsals in New York the cast and creative team packed their bags and jumped on the magic carpet to their new home in Toronto, the Ed Mirvish Theatre.  The move to Toronto marked the beginning of the publicity build up for the show as 680 News interviewed Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed about the show and Mirvish Productions posted a special look behind the scenes;

As the World Premiere of this new, Broadway bound, production of Aladdin grew closer the press coverage increased.  The Toronto Star went behind the scenes, talking with Thomas Schumacher, Casey Nicholaw, Chad Beguelin and James Monroe Iglehart, The Canadian Press spoke with Alan Menken (though sadly the video seems to no longer be online) and both The Winnipeg Free News and CBC News interviewed Canadian native Jaz Sealey about his role in the show.

Then it was show time.  Friday 1st November 2013 saw the curtain rise for the first time on Aladdin.  The show opened to standing ovations and, whilst there were one or two minor technical issues, audience reactions were overwhelmingly positive (and those early technical problems were dealt with extremely quickly and haven't been an issue since).

In less than a week the new, revised, song list hit the net (which is actually a pretty long time given that it took less than a day for the Seattle list to come online) and featured some noticeable differences to the earlier productions of the show;

Act One
Arabian Nights
One Jump Ahead
Proud of Your Boy (with One Jump Ahead, Reprise used as a lead in)
Arabian Nights, Reprise 1
Call Me a Princess
Call Me a Princess, Reprise
Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim
A Million Miles Away
Diamond in the Rough
Friend Like Me
Arabian Nights, Reprise 2
Act 1 Finale (Friend Like Me, Reprise and Proud of Your Boy, Reprise 1)

Act Two
Prince Ali
Arabian Nights, Reprise 3
A Whole New World
High Adventure
Somebody's Got Your Back
Proud of Your Boy, Reprise 2
Prince Ali, Reprise
Genie's Exit (Somebody's Got Your Back, Reprise)
Finale Ultimo (Arabian Nights, Reprise 4 and A Whole New World, Reprise)

As the cast and creative team were entertaining audiences in Toronto and gearing up for their official opening night, Disney began to email those who had signed up to the show's official website a special priority code to allow them first access to tickets for Aladdin on Broadway.  Aladdin's Broadway debut was finally on sale!  It was a good week to be an Aladdin fan as that same week also saw the release of the first official production photos from Aladdin's Toronto run.

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine with Brandt Martinez, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

And once again I'd like to say a big thank you to Disney Theatrical for providing me with high quality versions of the photos.

That week in November also showed the humanitarian side of one of the cast as, in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, Don Darryl Rivera dedicated his performance of Iago to those affected by the tragedy and encouraged his friends and supporters to consider donating to UNICEF's efforts to help those affected.

On 21st November 2013 Aladdin: The New Musical Fantasy officially opened in Toronto.  Whilst audience responses were extremely positive, as with Seattle the critics were mixed in their opinions.  The Star gave the show 2 1/2 stars (presumably out of 5) praising James Monroe Iglehart's Genie and the show stopping Friend Like Me but criticising the show's book, saying it didn't make you care for the characters in the way you should.  The Globe and Mail agreed, giving the show 2 1/2 out of 4 stars, praising the set design and the magic carpet but saying the show lacked charm and heart.  The Toronto Sun's review had the same criticisms, saying that it was hard to emotionally invest in the characters, whilst the Huffington Post called James Monroe Iglehart "ten kinds of fabulous, each with its own theme song" but felt that Jasmine's character lacked depth and, like the other reviews, felt that rewriting was needed to make the show stronger.  The Vancouver Sun felt that the show might appeal more to children than to adults, but conceded that "it's hard to argue with simple, straightforward fun"Broadway World's review was more positive, though it echoed the earlier concerns about the book not making you care enough for the characters it went on to say that "problems aside, there's still a lot of magic in Aladdin", praising the cast and calling the A Whole New World scene "a moment of theatrical magic combined with a stunningly beautiful song ... it served as a beautiful reminder of why people love Aladdin and why they will go to the theatre in droves to see it come to life before their very eyes."  The Post's review was similarly positive, praising James Monroe Iglehart's Genie and Don Darryl Rivera's Iago and calling Friend Like Me "almost worth the price of admission alone" but agreed with the Huffington Post that Courtney Reed's Jasmine was limited by the book and felt that this was a missed opportunity.  The National Post's review was positively glowing with praise, declaring "Forget the Lion, this Aladdin is King of the Stage" and calling it "the best ever stage version of a movie".  The reviewer praised almost every element of the show saying "what a joy to encounter a big, splashy, funny musical that works".

Following the official opening of the show The Star published a touching interview with Alan Menken, discussing his life and bringing Aladdin to stage, CHCH posted a video interview with the stars of the show, Canada's CTV News posted a video interview with James Monroe Iglehart (Jonathan Freeman's there too but this was definitely the JMI Show!) and Broadway Direct posted interviews with both Jonathan Freeman and Casey NicholawNY1 also posted a short article on the show's opening along with a video for Warner Cable customers and at the end of December Inlander interviewed Brandon O'Neill.

In the wake of the reviews the creative team went back to work.  In the past Disney have been criticised for not making anything more than superficial changes to their shows between the out of town previews and their Broadway debut, this certainly can't be said for Aladdin as the creative team have taken every opportunity to listen to feedback and improve the show.  The staging of A Whole New World was one of the most divisive issues with critics back in 2011, for this new production it was almost universally praised as one of the stand outs of the show.  Less than a month after the reviews Call Me a Princess and Call Me a Princess Reprise were cut and replaced with a new song called Beyond These Palace Walls to give Jasmine a more character driven song in the vein of Aladdin's Proud of Your Boy.  The changes didn't stop there as reports came out from people seeing the show that several changes, big and small, were being made in the final months of the Toronto run.  One thing seemed unanimous however, everyone who saw the show multiple times in Toronto agreed that the changes made the show stronger and Aladdin ended its Toronto run better for them.  And more changes are still to come as Director Casey Nicholaw confirmed in this interview with Broadway World last week.

As the cold Canadian winter closed in the cast got an early Christmas surprise - Scott Weinger, the original voice of Aladdin, came to see the show and meet the cast backstage.  And Disney had an early Christmas present for the fans as well, releasing a teaser trailer for Aladdin's upcoming Broadway run.

On 5th January 2014 Aladdin played its final show at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto and the final countdown to Broadway began as Disney raised the marquee at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York.

Our final look at the Toronto run of Aladdin came earlier this month from Disney's official fan site, D23.  As part of an article about the show's impending Broadway debut D23 shared some previously unseen production images from Toronto, including our first look at Brian Gonzales, Jonathan Schwartz and Brandon O'Neill as Babkak, Omar and Kassim, Don Darryl Rivera as Iago and the one and only Jonathan Freeman as Jafar!  The website is members only but you can sign up for free, you don't need to be a silver or gold member to view the article.

Now, the countdown to Broadway is finally over.  It's been a long journey from those early workshops in 2010 to The 5th Avenue's Pilot Production in 2011 to where we are right now.  Tomorrow night the curtain at the New Amsterdam Theatre will rise, the orchestra will begin to play and the story of Aladdin will come to life on a Broadway stage.  Perhaps you would like to hear the tale?  It begins on a dark night...

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Press Day Round Up

Last Tuesday was Press Day for Disney's Aladdin: Broadway's New Musical Comedy and as promised here's a round up of all the news, photos and interviews that have been released from the day (plus a few things I missed earlier).

I know I've already posted this but let's start with Disney's First Look video;

And now onto the new stuff!

First a few pieces from before Press Day;

Jonathan Freeman talks Jafar with Theater Mania
Nicholas Christiani, who helped construct sets for Aladdin, has won the United States Institute for Theatre Technology's Golden Hammer Award for Scenic Technology

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

And now the main event;

Buzzfeed interviews Adam Jacobs, Courtney Reed and James Monroe Iglehart's Press Day video interviews (super satisfied Disney nerd?  That's me!)'s Press Day photo gallery
Tyranny of Style interviews Costume Designer Gregg Barnes (this is an incredibly detailed interview and I highly recommend it, it's a fascinating read)
Broadway Box asks the cast and creative team their magic carpet fantasies
Broadway World's Press Day video interviews
Broadway World's Press Day photo coverage
New York Times names James Monroe Iglehart one of their "Four Face New Faces to Watch this Season"
Broadway Box lists JMI's Genie as one of "Seven Photos from the Week that Took Our Breath Away"
Playbill's Press Day photo call
Entertainment Weekly meets the cast and creative team on Press Day
Playbill's Press Day video interviews
The Associated Press speaks with Casey Nicholaw and the cast on Press Day
Access Hollywood talks with Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed on Press Day
Theater Pizzazz's video interview with the cast on Press Day (looks like the First Look photo shoot video at Press Day was a little different... I spy Jafar!!)
Disney Insider interviews with Chad Beguelin

Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

And finally Disney continued its Artist Spotlight series with new videos featuring Adam Jacobs, James Monroe Iglehart and Courtney Reed.

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

That's everything (so far!), if I find more I'll be sure to update this post.

Aladdin: Broadway's New Musical Comedy begins previews next week with an official opening on 20th March.  Tickets are now on sale at

Edit - And here's a few more (thanks to Sotiris for pointing some of these out to me! talks with James Monroe Iglehart (and now I really want to hear JMI sing When I Find My Baby from Sister Act)
USA Today had posted a video interview with the cast along with some exclusive rehearsal footage (including clips from A Million Miles Away and Act One Finale/Proud of Your Boy Reprise) but the page is no longer online.  I've posted the link in case it comes back up again.
Theatre Mania talks with the show's stars, Casey Nicholaw and Chad Begulin

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Countdown to Broadway - Manila 2012

Tom Rodriguez and K-La Rivera as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Atlantis Productions

Earlier this week I looked back at the European Premiere of Aladdin, now it's the turn of Atlantis Productions' Asian Premiere, the final production (not counting Denmark's encore run) before Disney announced that the show would be making its way to Broadway.  The countdown to Broadway is almost done!

On 24th February 2012 it was announced that Atlantis Productions had been chosen by Disney to stage the Asian Premiere of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical.  The show would run from 16th November through 9th December 2012, transporting audiences of the Philippines' Meralco Theatre on a magical Arabian adventure.

Tom Rodriguez and K-La Rivera as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Atlantis Productions
April saw the first casting announcement and the release of the show's poster (seen at the start of this post).  Tom Rodriguez was confirmed to be making his stage debut as Aladdin with K-La Rivera, who had starred in Atlantis' production of Into the Heights the previous year, as Princess Jasmine.

The full cast was later revealed to be;

Tom Rodriguez as Aladdin
K-La Rivera as Princess Jasmine
Aiza Seguerra and Calvin Millado (alternating) as Genie
Raul Montesa as Jafar
Jimmy Marquez as Iago
Bibo Reyes as Babkak
Johann dela Fuente as Omar
Jamie Wilson as Kassim
Jun Ofrasio as Sultan

The show was directed by Bobby Garcia and Chari Arespacochaga with choreography by Ceicle Martinez, sets by Lex Marcos and Lawyn Cruz, lighting by Jay Aranda, costumes by Twinkle Zamora and musical direction by Ceejay Javier.  Johann dela Fuente, as well as playing Omar, also provided hair and makeup design.  The article linked to above, by The Philippine Star, is well worth reading as the cast comment on playing their iconic roles.

Left to Right; Aiza Seguerra as Genie, Tom Rodriguez as Aladdin, K-La Rivera as Jasmine and Calvin Millado as Genie, Photo by Atlantis Productions

I haven't been able to find many reviews for Atlantis Productions' Aladdin, but the one I did find, by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, pretty much mirrors exactly how I felt when watching the Tuachan's production.  As Pam Pastor says, "we felt like kids again while watching the show.  We were smiling practically the entire time (our mouths actually started to hurt), we laughed gleefully. we clapped our hands.  And yes, we'll admit it, we kind of booed Jafar, too ... "Disney's Aladdin" was a fresh take on a beloved tale, a colorful musical spectacle that offers fun and laughs for both children and adults."  One thing that the review doesn't mention is that the sets for this production were actually made out or recycled materials (bottles, cans, etc.).  It's an incredibly interesting approach and one I wish I could have seen as it looks beautifully done in the few photos I have seen.

Tom Rodriguez and K-La Rivera as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Atlantis Productions

So, like all productions of Aladdin to this point, it went short and sweet.  When the Pilot Production took its final bow on 31st July 2011 all we knew about Aladdin's future was that Disney's original intention for the show was to license it out to professional and amateur groups, by the end of 2012 we'd had two amazing regional productions along with incredible premiere productions in both Europe and Asia.  Aladdin had travelled the world where, like with 5th Avenue's Pilot Production, it had been embraced by its audiences.  But the most exciting news about the show was still just a rumour, just a simple comment by Alan Menken at a D23 event... Broadway was coming!

Artist Spotlight - Courtney Reed

The countdown to Broadway continues as Disney release another Artist Spoltlight video, this time featuring the show's leading lady Courtney Reed.

And yes, that is the end of A Whole New World you can hear :o)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Artist Spotlights - Adam Jacobs & James Monroe Iglehart

The countdown to Broadway is definitely in the home stretch now!  Broadway previews begin in less than a week and Disney Theatrical have just released two new instalments in the Artist Spotlight series.  This time around they're focusing on the cast as they introduce us to Adam Jacobs and James Monroe Iglehart who are bringing Aladdin and Genie to life in Aladdin.


The best part about the 20 plus year wait for Aladdin on Broadway is that the cast have grown up loving the movie just as much as the fans, they're fans themselves, and that comes across in these interviews and on stage.  They love this show and these characters.  And that has to be the best casting reaction I have ever seen :o)
Aladdin: Broadway's New Musical Comedy begins previews next week, 26th February, and officially opens on 20th March.  Tickets are available from

Big Changes for Broadway's Aladdin

This week's Press Day saw a LOT of information released about Disney's Aladdin.  In addition to the official First Look video and character portraits there's been a ton of interviews and images coming out from the event.  I'll be posting a big round up post this weekend but I couldn't wait to share this video from Broadway World.

The 15 minute video features interviews with stars Adam Jacobs, Courtney Reed, James Monroe Iglehart and Jonathan Freeman along with Director and Choreographer Casey Nicholaw and Writer and Lyricist Chad Beguelin.  It's a great video and well worth watching, but part way through Casey Nicholaw drops a small bombshell - Babkak, Omar and Kassim are no longer the narrators of the show!!

For those who don't know, Babkak, Omar and Kassim are Aladdin's 3 friends from the streets of Agrabah.  The original version of Aladdin was envision by Howard Ashman as much more of a Hope-Crosby road movie with his 3 friends serving as both characters and narrators.  During the development of the movie these characters, along with Aladdin's mother and a wealth of Ashman/Menken music, were cut from the film.  When developing the show for Broadway the creative team went back to the original vision for Aladdin and restored Babkak, Omar and Kassim as Aladdin's friends and narrators.

Brian Gonzales, Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Brandon O'Neill as Babkak, Omar and Kassim in the 5th Avenue Pilot Production of Aladdin with James Monroe Iglehart and Adam Jacobs as Genie and Aladdin, Photo by Chris Bennion

It stayed that way from the 5th Avenue's Pilot Production back in 2011 right the way through to the recent pre-Broadway run in Toronto.  Not any more.  According to Nicholaw, whilst Babkak, Omar and Kassim are still Aladdin's friends, in the Broadway production they will no longer be narrators.

This is a pretty major change.  As narrators, Babkak, Omar and Kassim consistently broke the 4th wall to joke with the audience and also helped moved the show along as they sang several reprises of Arabian Nights throughout the show.  Whilst removing them as narrators won't affect the story it has the potential to make a massive difference to both the tone and the pace of the show.

It also raises several questions;

If the trio are no longer narrators does that mean there is no longer a narrator in the show or has that role been given to the ensemble?
If the whole narrator idea has been cut (or reduced to just the start of the show/lead in to the original Arabian Nights) does that mean that the Arabian Nights reprises are cut?
If the reprises are cut will there be any new songs to replace them?  How Quick They Forget maybe, or new material for the lead characters?
Has the cast album been recorded and, if so, was it recorded before or after these changes?

We won't have to wait too long for answers as Broadway previews begin in less than a week!  That said, I won't be looking for or posting any plot details here until after the show opens in March.  I'm lucky enough to be seeing the show next month and, since it sounds like it's changed a lot since I saw it at the Tuacahn, I want to be surprised.  I'll still be covering all the news in the run up though!

Personally, I'm a little sad to hear that Babkak, Omar and Kassim are no longer narrators, I really enjoyed them in that role when I saw the show.  That said, all the comments out of Toronto were that the changes made during its pre-Broadway run made the show stronger.  I trust the creative team and know that they've done this to make the show better.  I can't wait to see what they have in store next month!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Press Day for Aladdin!

Today is press day for Aladdin: Broadway's New Musical Comedy and to celebrate Disney Theatrical have released a new First Look video on their YouTube channel showing the casts' photo shoot for their character portraits;

And that's not all!  They also released several of the character portraits from the shoot! (I just want to say a big thank you to Disney Theatrical for providing the amazing high quality images)
Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemaan

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemaan

Brandt Martinez, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemaan

Tia Altinay, Khori Petinaud and Rhea Patterson, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemaan

Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemaan

 As today was Press Day I think it's safe to say that the marketing campaign for Aladdin's Broadway debut has officially moved into top gear and we can expect a lot more news to come over the next few days and weeks as the show begins previews at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

Tickets for Aladdin: Broadway's New Musical Comedy are now on sale at the show's official website.  Broadway previews begin next Wednesday, February 26th, and the show officially opens on 20th March!


Countdown to Broadway - Denmark 2012/2013

In the months after the Pilot Production it was quickly announced that Aladdin: The New Stage Musical would be getting two regional productions in 2012, but before 2011 had drawn to a close it was also revealed that 2012 would see the international premiere of the show as well!

On 20th November 2011 the Columbia Tribune revealed that a European production of Aladdin was in the early stages of development.  Soon after it was confirmed that Aladdin would receive its European Premiere at Denmark's Fredericia Teater in October 2012.  The show was initially planned to run from 4th October through 11th November, however, due to overwhelming demand the show's run was later through to 19th November before the curtain even raised on the first performance!

The end of April saw the first casting news for the show as Have Backstage announced that Johannes Nymark, Maria Lucia and Pelle Emil would be bringing Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie to life in the the Fredericia's largest production to date.  They also confirmed that the European Premiere of Aladdin would be directed and choreographed by Lynne Kurdziel and other key creative roles.

The Teaser Trailer for Fredericia's Aladdin

As well as being the first international production of the show, the Fredericia's production of Aladdin was also the first to receive its own website,  And with this website came the announcement of the full cast;

Johannes Nymark as Aladdin
Maria Lucia Heiberg Rosenberg as Princess Jasmine (with Kristine Yde Eriksen as alternate Jasmine)
Pelle Emil Hebsgaard as Genie
Martin Loft as Jafar
Kim Brandt as Iago
Teit Samso Clausen as Babkak
Max-Emil Nissen as Omar
Kim Ace Nielsen as Kassim
Kim Leprevost as Sultan

Johannes Nymark and Maria Lucia Heiberg Rosenberg as Aladdin and Jasmine, Photo by Fredericia Teatre

In the build up to the show and during its run the Fredericia released several behind the scenes videos showing the cast and crew as they took the show from script to stage.  I'd like to say a big thank you to Danish fans Steffen and David who were both fantastic at keeping me up to date with this production of Aladdin.  All of the videos they directed me to can be found here, here, and here (with more in the comments of the final post), but I have to say my favourite of all the links that Steffen sent me has to be this one!  The Disney comics are much bigger in Europe than they are in America or the UK and this Danish one done to promote/celebrate the European Premiere features Donald Duck auditioning for a part in Duckberg's production of Aladdin and, of course, Donald being Donald he literally brings down the house!

Now, my Danish is very limited (or, more honestly, totally non-existent) so I couldn't really keep up properly with the reviews, but from what I could understand the Fredericia's production of Aladdin was very well received, earning multiple 5 star reviews.  In fact, it got so many good reviews that Fredericia released a new promotional video for the show highlighting its 5 star rating and all the positive comments;

After a successful 2012 run the lyric "come back soon that's the end, till another Arabian night" certainly applied to this production as the show was so popular that a second run was announced for 2013!  From 19th July through 20th August 2013, the same cast and creative team returned once again to the Fredericia Teater to take audiences on a magic carpet ride of adventure, fun and romance.  This encore performance would also be the final production of the original version of Aladdin: The New Stage Musical as just a few months later the new, Broadway bound, production would debut in Toronto, but that's a post for another Arabian night...

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

News Update - Courtney Reed Interviewed by Daily Herald and More

Courtney Reed as Princess Jasmine with Brandt Martinez, Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

A special news round up this week as the Daily Herald has published an interview with Courtney Reed.  In the interview Courtney talks about her Broadway debut in Mamma Mia, what led her to become an actress and, of course, playing Princess Jasmine in Aladdin.

Disney's official blog has posted a sneak preview of the upcoming merchandise for the show.  Looks like I'll be getting a few new t-shirts in New York!  The merchandise for Aladdin will be available at the New Amsterdam Theatre when the show opens and also (I believe) online via the Disney Store.

And finally, this week Disney Theatrical have announced that Rush Tickets for the show will be $32.50.  These tickets will go on sale the day of the performance and are limited to 2 tickets per guest.  Seating locations will be at the theatre's discretion and Rush Tickets may not be available for every performance.  You can read the full announcement at Playbill.

Tickets for Aladdin are now on sale at the show's official website.  Previews begin February 26th with the official Opening Night on 20th March.

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;


Monday, 3 February 2014

I Think You would be Most Rewarded to Consider... D23!

Whilst most people were pre-occupied by the Super Bowl yesterday D23 tweeted a very interesting link leading to an article on the D23 website; "Aladdin on Broadway Takes Over New York's New Amsterdam Theatre"

Whilst there's no new information in the article (what more's left to say at this point?) it does feature several new production images from the recent Toronto preview run, including one we've all waited a very long time to see;

Jonathan Freeman and Don Darryl Rivera as Jafar and Iago, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Yes, that's the Jonathan Freeman as Jafar!  And he looks even more evil than I imagined (in a good way)!

Make sure you check out the D23 article for more previously unreleased production photos!

It's getting close now, previews officially start this month!!  Tickets can be bought via the show's official website.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

News Round Up - Aladdin Back in Rehearsals and Adam Jacobs becomes Father of Twins

Proud of Their Boys - Adam and Kelly Jacobs with their new sons Jack and Alex, Photo from Disney Theatrical

It's been an exciting week for Aladdin!  Monday was the first day of rehearsals for the Broadway run of the show, but for the show's title star, Adam Jacobs, it was an even more important day as he became the father of twin boys!

In a press release Adam said "Kelly and I are so incredibly thrilled to welcome two healthy boys into our life.  My wife just amazes me.  I couldn't be more proud of my beautiful family."

I'd just like to say a big congratulations to Adam, Kelly and their family.  I wish you all the best.

Dance Magazine have published an article spotlighting Khori Petinaud who will make her Broadway debut in the ensemble of Aladdin.  In the article Khori talks about her road to Broadway and what its like to work with Director/Choreographer Casey Nicholaw as they create the show.  It's an interesting piece and well worth checking out.

And finally, with the show back in rehearsals you should start checking out the official Facebook page.  Over the last week they've started posting some photos from behind the scenes at the New Amsterdam Theatre.  I wouldn't expect to see the cast until the previews are underway and production photos are taken, but fingers crossed Disney may surprise us!