Sunday, 7 June 2015

Broadway News Round Up 35

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

Has it really been a month since I posted one of these?  I know I've covered the big headlines like Aladdin opening in Tokyo and celebrating 500 performances on Broadway but that barely scratches the surface of what this fabulous cast have been up to! So it's time to play a little catch up with all the residents of the fictional city of Agrabah!

Later this month Aladdin and The Lion King will both be hosting special matinee performances as part of Playbill's Family Day OUT.  Part of Playbill's second annual Playbill Pride, the June 13th event invites LGBT families and allies to a pre-matinee party and lunch with cast members from both shows followed by a 2pm matinee performance.  More details can be found at Playbill though tickets are now sold out for both shows.

At the end of last month James Monroe Iglehart hosted the A Broader Way Karaoke Benefit to raise money for A Broader Way, the initiative set up by Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs to help offer girls from urban communities an outlet for self-expression and creativity through the arts.  But this is James.  He didn't just host, he doesn't just sing, he freestyle raps!!

May was a big month for James as he had his first 54 Below show How the Heck Did I Get Here?  Before the event Playbill had a short preview showing off his fantastic freestyle rap skills (seriously, I will never know how people do that!  I'd totally run out of words!)

Before his 54 Below solo Debut James sat down with Broadway Black Box to talk about how he really did get here;

He also spoke with Theater Mania about that same subject and a little bit about his old rap dreams and the best thing about being a Genie on Broadway.

After his Gotham debut and co-host appearances on The View James also returned to the small screen last week in ABC's Broadway Backstage: Spring Preview!  And if you missed it when it aired (or don't live in America) you can watch it all online right here.

If that wasn't enough James was also The Broadway League's social media correspondent for Broadway's annual Stars in the Alley on 27th May.  You can see a LOT more from that event on James' Twitter and Instagram.

James even found time to take part in Schmackary's annual Broadway Bakes event to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  Broadway World has pictures from the event.  And I have to say, this year was my 4th visit to NYC but only my first visit to Schmackary's and I now have a new favourite cookie!  Seriously, never mind the shows I'd be tempted to fly back to NYC just for one of those cookies!  They need to open a UK store!!

And after all that he still had time to appear on the Denzel Washington podcast live from Union Hall!  You can listen to the full podcast right here!

He may not be up for an award this year but James will be back on the Tonys tonight!  Along with fellow Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller he will co-host The Creative Arts Awards which celebrate the hard work of the often unsung behind the scenes heroes who make the shows possible.

And James returned The Electric Company to teach phonic "I blends" his own special way.  If you live in America you can view it here.

Last month Adam Jacobs took part in a concert production of Sweet Smell of Success to benefit the American Cancer Society. were on hand to record some of the event, including some of Adam's performance, which you can see here;

Playbill has posted a fantastic video of Seth Rudetsky and Adam reliving Adam's Les Miserables days (I don't think I've ever heard Adam sing so low!)  Make sure you check it out here!  And in another "Obsessed" video, Adam finally gets to upstage JMI!

Courtney Reed did a great interview with Fit for Broadway so make sure you give it a read!

Aladdin's Steel Burkhardt took part in Broadway Sings Bruno Mars last month.

This is a rare treat - The Japan News has posted an interview with the Tokyo casts' Genies in English!  Here Mitsuyuki Doguchi and Hisashi Takiyama talk about their shared role!

Disney on Broadway's YouTube Channel has posted a few more Aladdin videos this month as they use Etch A Sketch to draw the lamp and go behind the scenes of the cast recording with "A Whole New World".  I just love that one year on "Broadway's New Musical Comedy" is now "Broadway's Hit Musical Comedy".

I missed posting this at the time (England's Mother's Day is in March) but Aladdin posted a great little Mother's Day video on Instagram last month.

Remember that recipe video that Disney on Broadway released as part of Aladdin's 1st anniversary?  Well now you can get a closer look at all the dishes on Pin Interest.

And if you're like me and still haven't bought one yet, Aladdin keeps posting pictures on Instagram that make you remember - yes you do want your very own Genie Bear!

Aladdin's legendary composer Alan Menken is certainly keeping busy!  Last month it was announced that Galavant would be returning for second season (which is fantastic as I loved the first season and was dreading it ending on that cliffhanger!), then came the news that Tangled is getting a TV series in 2017 with Alan Menken and Glenn Slater penning new songs!  As I have fond memories of growing up with Aladdin: The Series I think this is wonderful news and a big step in the right direction for the Disney Channel.  The fact that they've waiting this long and not just done it quickly to cash in on the film's success and they've got Alan Menken and Glenn Slater involved gives me very high hopes for the quality of this show.  And if that's not enough yesterday saw the debut of his newest stage musical The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz at the Segal Centre in Montreal.  The show runs now through 28th June and tickets are available here.  Oh, and he's also working on a live action adaptation of one of his greatest Disney classics - Beauty and the Beast!  Like I said, he's definitely keeping busy!

It may seem hard to believe but this time last year we were all crossing our fingers that Aladdin would take home some Tony Awards!  I remember watching a live stream and waking my wife up with a cheer of joy when James Monroe Iglehart won!  This year Aladdin's incredibly talented director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw has been nominated again (for both direction and choreography) for his new show Something Rotten! which is also up for the best musical award.  Something Rotten! re-teamed Casey with Aladdin's costume designer Gregg Barnes who is up for Best Costume Design of a Musical.  I still think it's criminal that Gregg wasn't nominated for Aladdin's amazing costumes so I really have my fingers crossed for him this year!  It total Something Rotten! is up for an incredible 10 awards, so congratulations to Casey and his entire team on that phenomenal achievement. have posted a great video interview with Casey about his Tony secretsAladdin's scenic designer, Bob Crowley is up for an incredible 4 awards this year including Best Scenic Design of a Play and Best Scenic Design of a Musical and also Best Costume Design in both categories as well!  I want to wish them all the very best of luck!  I can't promise I'll stay up until 5am watching this time but I'm rooting for you!  You can see all of this year's nominees here and The Tony Awards will air live on CBS tonight!

And speaking of Bob Crowley, his work was recently honoured at the New York Theatre Workshop's Spring Gala.  Congratulations Bob!  You can see some photos of the event at Theater Mania.

The list of shows I want to see next time I'm in NYC just seems to keep growing.  Aladdin again (of course!), Something Rotten! and now it's been announced that Casey Nicholaw's Tuck Everlasting is coming to Broadway next year!  The show will begin previews March 19th 2016 with an official opening night already set for 17th April 2016.  Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who played Omar in Aladdin's 5th Avenue Pilot Production, starred in this year's Premiere Production of Tuck Everlasting so hopefully he'll stay with the cast and I'll finally get to see him in something!  And if Prince of Egypt with Norm Lewis does ever happen then I think I'll need to look at a much longer stay in the city than just a weekend next time!

And if you want to be in one of Casey's shows then you might want to read this fascinating interview he did with Playbill where he discusses what he looks for in the people he casts.  It seems the golden rule, like Genie tells Aladdin, is to just be yourself!

I've written previously about the inspiring story of Kylie Myers who touched the heart of Broadway and of the Aladdin cast in particular.  Though Kylie sadly passed away before she could make her Broadway debut in a walk-on role in Aladdin her legacy lives on and Kylie made her Broadway debut in April in a Times Square public service announcement for The Truth 365;

We all love Aladdin's fantastic costumes and know that Gregg Barnes is responsible for designing them.  But what happens after that?  Here's an interesting little piece on the man responsible for providing most of Broadway (including Aladdin) with its footwear.  Like the article says, if you're doing big dance numbers eight shows a week then good footwear is essential!

Aladdin's TV appearances keep coming as the show will feature on ABC's The Bachelorette tomorrow night!  According to the press release "a group of men audition, trying to sing and dance their way into the Bachelorette's heart with hopes of being chosen to be featured with her in that night's performance of Disney's "Aladdin", the Tony-winning hit Broadway musical."  You can see some behind the scenes pictures over at Broadway World and even more at Buddy TV.

One of the best things I've learnt about Broadway whilst doing this blog is how much people want to give back and help nurture the next generation.  The Purple Box Theatre Kids recently visited New York as part of the Voices of Broadway program and had an incredible experience, including singing on stage with the cast of Aladdin!  You can read all about their amazing journey right here.

And speaking of inspiring the next generation, it sounds like Aladdin did just that for the Highlands High School Variations Show Choir on their trip to NYC last month!  You can read their story right here.

Samantha Massell went from Aladdin at The Muny to the US Premiere Production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, now she's returning to The Muny with Hunchback's Andrew Samonsky as they join The Lion King's original Nala, Heather Headley, in Into the Woods this July.  Samantha and Andrew also took part in 54 Below's #tbt Throwback Thursday: The Concert last month, which sounds like it was a great night (you can see Samantha singing "It's Raining on Prom Night" here).

VACATION ALERT - Adam Jacobs will be away June 23rd-25th, for those performances Rodney Ingram will be bringing the title character to life.  If you want to see Rodney as Aladdin this is a great opportunity as it's rare to know when an understudy will be performing in advance.

And speaking of vacations!  Adam, Courtney, James and most of Aladdin's talented ensemble took a little trip last weekend to Walt Disney World to take part in the 2015 IPW convention to promote US travel and tourism.  You can see plenty of great photos on Twitter and Instagram of their time in the parks but it was their Sing Off with the cast of The Lion King that made the news!  Delayed for 6 hours at La Guardia the two casts treated other stranded passengers to show songs and even some freestyle rap to help pass the time!  Disney on Broadway have posted a 4 minute video to their YouTube page but there are longer versions on YouTube.  The video below is 14 minutes but it repeats so the full Sing Off is about 7 minutes;

I'm majorly biased but I think the Aladdin cast won!
And finally, round two of Don Darryl Rivera and James Monroe Iglehart's hilarious Scare War!!
A video posted by JM Iglehart (@jmiglehart) on

And then came an attempted sneak attack by Don!
Better luck next time buddy!!

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