Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Wishing You a Magical New Year

Adam Jacobs, Courtney Reed and James Monroe Iglehart as Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie

What an amazing year it's been!  Over twenty years after it was released in cinemas and three years after it's stage debut in Seattle, Aladdin finally premiered on Broadway with a dream cast who have been making wishes come true eight times a week since the show opened in February.

Tonight they will be in New York's Times Square to help make more wishes come true as the clock strikes 12, the ball drops and confetti wishes fill the air.  And if you want a little sneak peak at the magic make sure you check out the show's official Facebook page where you can see a video of the confetti test at the New Amsterdam Theatre earlier this week!

And you can watch the main event right here from 6pm EST until 12:15am EST

Have a fantastic night everyone.  Here's wishing you all a magical 2015!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Original Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Merry Christmas everyone, may all your wishes come true!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Welcome to Agrabah - Steel Burkhardt Makes His Debut as Kassim

Tonight Steel Burkhardt will make his debut as Kassim in Aladdin on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

Good luck Steel!  Have a great first night, I wish you all the best for a successful run as Kassim.

Broadway News Round Up 26

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Original Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Well here we are, the final news round up before Christmas!

Firstly, sorry for not posting a round up last weekend.  I was working on something Aladdin related though and I hope to be able to share it with you all very soon.  Oh, and make sure you go and vote for James Monroe Iglehart as's Star of the Year!

Now that's out of the way, let's get in the festive mood with some more Christmas carols with an Agrabah twist from the one and only James Monroe Iglehart!  You can see the video's on Aladdin's official Facebook page here and here!  And speaking of festive, James also took part in the 7th annual Joe Iconis Christmas Spectacular at 54 Below last Friday.  I wish I could have seen that!

Staying with the festivities for a moment, Theater Pizzazz has a positive review for Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol which featured Don Darryl Rivera as the Ghost of Christmas Past.  Another one I wish I could have seen!  But at least has a few photos.

If you want to help make someone's wish come true this Christmas then take a moment to look at San Mateo High School's Dancers IndieGoGo page where they are trying to raise money to take the students to New York to see 3 shows and learn from Broadway stars (including Aladdin with an after show talkback and a private dance class) and at this GoFundMe page to help Andrew go on his school trip to see the show.

In the last news round up I told you that Adam Jacobs and James Monroe Iglehart were going to be featured on The View, well now that special medley can be viewed online!  Make sure you check it out right here!

And speaking of Adam Jacobs, you can see an exclusive video interview with him at the CYT blog!

Last weekend was a big one for Disney Theatrical with ABC's presentation of Backstage with Disney on Broadway: Celebrating 20 Years.  To get in the mood Disney posted a special performance by VoicePlay on their YouTube channel and on all their musical's Facebook pages;

Awesome performance and I love that they even included some of the cut Arabian Nights lyrics at the end!

There was plenty to love during the special but the highlight for any Aladdin fan had to be a special backstage look at the show stopping Friend Like MeGlee's Darren Criss has never made any secret of his love for Disney and during the show he finally got to sing for them (and make his mother proud) as he sang his interpretation of Proud of Your Boy;

Normally I wouldn't post a link to the full show, but this was tweeted by Lebo M so I guess it's ok to share!  So if you couldn't see it the first time or just want to watch it again, enjoy 20 Years of Disney on Broadway!

Broadway World have photos from James Monroe Iglehart's appearance earlier this month at 54 Below's Don't Quit Your Night Job.

On Monday 8th December Aladdin's Brian Gonzales and his wife took part in Dallas' 4th annual Sugar Cookie Gala to raise money for Gideon's Feet, a non-profit organisation that supports artists in need, founded in memory of their first son.  A silent auction at the gala featured paper snowflakes created by Brian's cast mate, Don Darryl Rivera, and signed stars such as James Monroe Iglehart, Idina Menzel and the legendary Disney composer Richard Sherman.

Aladdin's Daisy Hobbs will be making her NYC solo concert debut next month in Here, An Evening of Song on Sunday 11th January at Stage 72 at The Triad (158 West 72nd Street).  Daisy has been with Aladdin since the original Pilot Production in Seattle and her concert will feature everything from Sondheim to pop music and even have some original material as well.  And if that's not enough you even get Aladdin's Jaz Sealey on guitar (you all remember his wonderful backing music to JMI's I Dream of Genie vlog right?).  Tickets are $20 (plus 2 drink minimum) and are available now from Brown Paper Tickets.  You can find out more about Daisy at her website.

This month Aladdin's Broadway home, the New Amsterdam Theatre, played host to the annual Gypsy of the Year event and Broadway World has the photos including James Monroe Iglehart on stage with Seth Rudetsky and a picture of the Aladdin cast's performance.

Ok, it's that time of year when everyone starts to look back at the year that was and Aladdin on Broadway has made a few of the lists!  Aladdin has flown a magic carpet right to the top of's "Best 5 Shows of 2014" (and also makes their "Top 5 Shows Kids Will Go Wild For") whilst The Associated Press has Aladdin in their "Top 10 Theater of 2014" and USA Today calls James Monroe Iglehart "Mr. Genie-ality" in their "The Best of Broadway in 2014"!

As well as looking back, it's also a time to look forward.  Have you made your New Year's Wish yet?

Finally, these last two pieces aren't really about Aladdin or even Disney but it's been announced that Aladdin's Director/Choreographer Casey Nicholaw's newest musical Something Rotten! will be skipping it's 5th Avenue debut and going straight to Broadway and that composer Alan Menken is working on a musical adaptation of 1994 film Corrina, Corrina for the stage.  Congratulations Casey!  And it's always good to hear about a new Menken musical!!

And speaking of new Menken musicals...

Well, I guess this is the final The Hunchback of Notre Dame update I'll be doing until the show begins its run at the Papermill Playhouse in March.  It sounds like it's been a rousing success with both critics and audiences so I can't wait to see it for myself next year!  Until then, here's a final round up of all the news from the La Jolla Playhouse's US Premiere Production.

Up Magazine listed Hunchback as one of the "5 Things We Love This December".

Blouin Artinfo looks at the show in a piece looking at the "freak shows" this season, calling Hunchback "an audience pleaser" that "has the potential to be a hit".

Buzz Feed gives the perfect review to end this run of the show on, saying that "those who attend the Hunchback musical hoping to see the Disney film onstage will be sorely disappointed" but "this is Hunchback as it was meant to be experienced."

And a bit of Aladdin related news, during the show's final week Samantha Massell (who played Jasmine in The Muny's production of Aladdin) went on as Esmeralda and from the fan reactions on Twitter she totally nailed it.  Well done Sam!  And remember, before returning to Notre Dame for the Papermill's run, Samantha will be in A Very Broadway Holiday at 54 Below on 30th December, so get your tickets now!

And that's it for The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Next stop the Papermill Playhouse!

Merry Christmas everyone, may all your Christmas wishes come true.

Salaam Worthy Friend - Brandon O'Neill Says Goodbye to Aladdin

Brandon O'Neill with Brian Gonzales & Jonathan Schwartz as Kassim, Babkak & Omar, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Today is Brandon O'Neill's final adventure in Agrabah.  Having originated the role for both Seattle and Broadway, Brandon will take his final bow as Kassim this afternoon at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

Good luck Brandon, and thanks for all the high adventures.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Don't Miss ABC's 20th Anniversary Special Tonight!

If you live in America then make sure you don't miss tonight's special Backstage with Disney on Broadway: Celebrating 20 Years on ABC at 7pm EST.  And to get you in the mood Entertainment Weekly have a special preview of Glee's Darren Criss singing Aladdin's Proud of Your Boy.

Hosted by Jesse Tyler this hour long celebration will take you from 1994's Beauty and the Beast to 2014's Aladdin and feature performances by Elton John, Mary Poppins' Ashley Brown and Aladdin's own Adam Jacobs as well as taking you back stage during the show stopping extravaganza that is Friend Like Me.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Last Chance to See La Jolla's Hunchback of Notre Dame

Just a quick reminder, this weekend is your last chance to see the critically acclaimed US Premiere production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the La Jolla Playhouse.  If you like musical theatre and you are in the San Diego area this weekend then you owe it yourself to see this show!

Tickets (the few that are left anyway) are available from the La Jolla's website.

To all the cast and crew, congratulations on a fantastic run, have an amazing last weekend!  Can't wait to see you all at the Paper Mill next year!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Steel Burkhardt is Aladdin's New Kassim

Disney Theatrical announced this week that Steel Burkhardt is to return to Broadway as Aladdin's new Kassim.

Steel is a graduate of Baldwin Wallace and most recently starred in this year's off-Broadway production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  He last appeared on Broadway as Berger in the 2011 revival of Hair (a role he had previously played in London's West End and on the US National Tour) and other stage credits include Murder Ballad, Guys and Dolls, Kiss Me Kate and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Steel will take his first bow as Kassim on Monday December 22nd 2014.

Congratulations Steel, and welcome to the Aladdin family!  I wish you a long and happy run in Aladdin and look forward to seeing you bring Kassim to life when I see the show again next year.

Brandon O'Neill to Take His Final Bow as Kassim

Brandon O'Neill, Brian Gonzales & Jonathan Schwartz as Kassim, Babkak & Omar, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

This week Disney Theatrical announced that on Sunday 21st December Brandon O'Neill would take his final bow as Kassim in Aladdin on Broadway.

Brandon has been a part of the Aladdin family since the show's pilot production at The 5th Avenue Theatre in his native Seattle back in 2011.  Already cast as Sky Masterson in 5th Avenue's Guys and Dolls, Brandon was initially unavailable to audition for Aladdin but after being the reader in auditions the casting team liked what they saw and asked Brandon to audition for the show.  Scheduling conflicts were worked out and the rest, as they say, is history.

If you have chance to see Brandon in Aladdin before he leaves then make sure you take it!  December 21st is the last time you will see the complete original Broadway cast of Aladdin and I promise you that it's an experience you'll never forget!

I just want to say a big thank you to Brandon for everything he did for the show, taking the concept of Kassim and, with the creative team and his fellow cast members, turning him into a fully realised character and bringing him to life on stage every night.  On a personal note I also want to say thank you for your support these last few years, it's meant a lot.

Brandon, I hope you enjoy your final nights in Agrabah and wish you all the best for your future career.  Keep making some magic!

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

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Broadway News Round Up 25

Jonathan Freeman as Jafar, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann or Deen Van Meer

Welcome to another news round up for Disney's Aladdin on Broadway!  I'm aware that I've not done one of these for a while so there's a lot to catch up on, but first something to get you all in the festive mood since we've reached December!  Here's James Monroe Iglehart putting an Agrabah twist a Christmas classic.  And after Thanksgiving Disney Theatrical certainly have a lot to be thankful for as both Aladdin and The Lion King broke house records again during Broadway's highest-grossing Thanksgiving weekend in historyAladdin pulled in $1,759,955 as it broke the New Amsterdam's house record for the third time (or is it fourth now?  I've honestly lost track!)

On December 14th Disney are celebrating 20 Years on Broadway with an hour long Backstage with Disney on Broadway: Celebrating 20 Years special on ABC.  The event will be hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and feature performances from Elton John, Mary Poppins' Ashley Brown and Aladdin himself, Adam Jacobs.  The special will take you into the rehearsal room with The Lion King, to opening night with Newsies and backstage during Aladdin's "Friend Like Me" so it's definitely a show that you don't want to miss!

But before that Broadway World is reporting that Adam Jacobs and James Monroe Iglehart will be on The View this Tuesday morning (9th December) so make sure to check it out!

Continuing the 20th anniversary celebrations of Disney Theatrical NY1 News went behind the scenes at Aladdin to speak with Adam Jacobs, Courtney Reed, James Monroe Iglehart and Jonathan Freeman.  They also spent time with the touring cast of Newsies attended the opening night of The Hunchback of Notre Dame in San Diego and spoke with the head of Disney Theatrical, Thomas Schumacher.

On Thursday 11th December James Monroe Iglehart will be joining other Broadway stars at 54 Below for the Don't Quit Your Night Job Holiday Spectacular where Broadway and improve meet... and make out.  Tickets are on sale now so don't miss out!  And that's not all!  James will be back at 54 Below on 19th January as part of song writer Scott Alan's 54 Below debut.

Continuing the tradition of Aladdin cast members supporting good causes, Adam Kaokept recently spent time helping Broadway Serves at the NYC Rescue Mission's Thanksgiving Banquet.  Well done Adam!

James Monroe Iglehart talks to NYC City Guide about Aladdin and picking his targets in the audience!

Joshua Dela Cruz talks with The Jersey Tomato Press about his High Adventures in Aladdin.

Aladdin's Michael James Scott is taking part in King of Glory, the annual Christmas concert of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Florida on Friday 12th December.

Broadway World has photos of some of Aladdin's cast members at the Broadway Dream's Foundation's Night of Dreams gala.

The Burlington County Times (a New Jersey community newspaper) has a new review of the show. (subscription required)

Broadway World reports that Aladdin's Bud Weber is taking part in an industry reading of Sing Me Home (and also give an email address where you can request complimentary tickets!)

The New Amsterdam Theatre will be host to the 26th annual Gypsy of the Year on Monday 8th December (4:30pm EST) and Tuesday 9th December (2pm EST) which will celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Wiz.  The show will feature special appearances by a number of Broadway stars, including Aladdin's James Monroe Iglehart, and the panel of judges includes Aladdin and Jasmine themselves, Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed.

Adam Jacobs and James Monroe Iglehart's appearance on Seth Rudetsky's Chatterbox is now on the SethTV website. (subscription required)

Disney Theatrical's Thomas Schumacher talks with Vulture about how Broadway has changed in the last 20 years and the highs and lows of bringing Disney to life on stage.

Last month Adam Jacobs taught a musical theatre workshop with A Class Act NY and Broadway World has the photos.

And speaking of Adam Jacobs, the readers of recently voted Adam into the Top 10 sexiest men alive on Broadway.  Congratulations Adam.

Disney Channel stars Ben Savage and Rowan Blanchard (Girl Meets World) recently went backstage at the New Amsterdam Theatre and met the cast of Aladdin;

The West End rumours keep on coming as the Daily Mail's Baz Bamigboye wrote last month "the Broadway show Aladdin arrives at the London Palladium in early 2016.  The folks at Disney were meeting with Palladium executives this week for another round of discussions that will, eventually, seal a deal."  No sources were quoted, not even the usual anonymous Broadway/West End executives/producers that normally get mentioned in reports like this (as happened in January 2013 when Aladdin was first rumoured for Broadway) but with 2 international productions already announced and more confirmed to be coming it's extremely likely that this report is accurate.  That said, Baz Bamigboye does lose some credibility when he goes on to state that "Rice wrote the lyrics for the animated film version then worked with Director Casey Nicholaw and other writers on numbers for the stage iteration" as Tim Rice was not involved with the Broadway production of Aladdin nor the earlier Seattle Pilot production in 2011.  And when he says "they need to calm it down a bit for London" well, let's just say I respectfully disagree.

And on the subject of international productions the Herald Sun is reporting that, according to a rumour "which is building among the arts industry" Aladdin is set to open in Australia in 2016!  As with the West End rumours this is unofficial until it is confirmed by Disney but if both of these rumours are true then Aladdin is having one of the fastest international roll outs in Disney Theatrical's history!  Not bad for a show that was never meant to go to Broadway!

Not exactly Aladdin related but the Tuacahn (who staged a fantastic production of Aladdin in 2012) has been nominated in several categories of the 2014 Broadway World Salt Lake City Awards for this year's production of The Little Mermaid including a Best Actress nomination for Heidi Anderson for her portrayal of Ursula.  Heidi was Marketing Manager at the Tuacahn during their production of Aladdin and was a big supported of this blog so please take a moment to vote for her and the Tuacahn's production of The Little Mermaid.

And finally Disney Theatrical recently announced a new ticket exchange program for their Broadway shows.  Recognising that people these days often have hectic and unpredictable schedules you can now exchange your ticket right up to 2 hours before the performance!  Playbill have all the details.

Next week is the final week of the US premiere production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse and if the tweets that have been filling my homepage these last 3 weeks are any indication then it's been an absolutely incredible run and Broadway is almost certainly looming on the horizon after the Paper Mill's run next March.

But don't take my word for it!  Here's some more fantastic reviews to tell you just what you're missing if you haven't seen this show! (Big thanks to Alex for sending me a lot of these links!)

Broadway World calls it "a feast for the eyes... and the soul".
Disney Examiner says "it's not an exact replica of Disney's film version, but if you're looking for a complex, alternate look at the story, you have to watch this musical production that brings the tale to an epic, darker level."
Disney Club of UCLA calls it "unforgettable" stating that "Scott Schwartz's masterful presentation at La Jolla Playhouse has greatly exceeded any preconceived expectations."
Neon Tommy calls the show "an absolute triumph" before going on to say "It is tragic, sweet, disturbing, inspiring, and revelatory.  The exciting work that La Jolla Playhouse has done to bring this old and classic tale to the stage may finally bring The Hunchback of Notre Dame to the forefront of American theatre on the Broadway stage, and sets the gold standard for musical theatre adaptations to come."
Entertainment Today says "there is little doubt that this production of Hunchback will have a long run on Broadway"" and advises readers to see it now during it's San Diego run.
Examiner gives the show 5 stars saying it "is both spectacular and a spectacle, and is alive and well."
The Guardian also gives the show 5 stars saying it's the show's "newfound complexity that will put this musical right on track to becoming a Broadway hit."

NY1 took a look at the show and spoken with Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz and Scott Schwartz about Hunchback.

Chase Brock spoke with Edge Media Network about choreographing The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Disney's D23 fan club reflects on the recent D23 Member Night at The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

And on a lighter note Hunchback's Samantha Massell and Nora Menken have been posting some unique backstage videos as the girls of Hunchback play the kazoo.  Check them out here and here.

Aladdin Nominated for 2015 Grammy Awards!

On Friday the nominations for the 2015 Grammy Awards were announced.  Now being honest I don't normally pay them much attention but this year Playbill had a headline that made me take notice.  Aladdin's Original Broadway Cast Recording has been nominated for Best Musical Theatre Album!!  I didn't even know that was a category!

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and West Side Story have also been nominated in the same category.

Congratulations to all of Aladdin's cast and everyone involved in the production of the cast recording.  And good luck!!