Thursday, 25 February 2016

Welcome to Agrabah! Brad & Major Join Broadway's Aladdin!

This week Broadway's Aladdin welcomed two new cast members as Brad Weinstock and Major Attaway joined Disney's record breaking musical!

Both Brad and Major are making their Broadway debuts in Aladdin!  Brad has previously starred several regional and Broadway in Chicago productions and in the national tours of Jersey Boys and Wicked.  Major has starred in several regional productions including Hot Mikado and Ashman and Menken's classic Little Shop of Horrors.

Photo by Brad Weinstock via Twitter

Brad is making his Broadway debut as our new Omar, replacing original cast member Jonathan Schwartz who took his final bow last weekend.

Major is making his Broadway debut as our new Stand By Genie/Babkak, replacing Trevor Dion Nicholas who is moving to London to star as Genie in Aladdin's upcoming West End premiere!

Best wishes to you both!  I hope you're having a fantastic first week!  I wish you both an incredible run and I look forward to seeing you in the show later this year!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Salaam Worthy Friend - Jonathan Schwartz Says Goodbye to Aladdin

Jonathan Schwartz, Brandon O'Neill, Brian Gonzales and the cast of Aladdin, Photo by Disney

Whilst there's been no official cast change announcement from Disney Theatrical, Aladdin's Instagram account this week posted a rehearsal photo which several cast members quickly reposted welcoming new cast members with hashtags for Genie and Omar.  You can see our new stand by Genie (replacing Trevor Dion Nicholas who is coming to open the show in London) and Omar in the photo.

That means that today is Jonathan Schwartz's final performance as Omar!  Jonathan originated the role for this new Broadway production and has brought Omar to life for over 700 performances, bringing smiles and laughter to over 1 million guests!

Good luck Jonathan (and any other citizens of Agrabah who may also be taking their final bow this afternoon), enjoy your final high adventure!  Thank you for everything and I wish you all the best for whatever the future may hold.
Jonathan Schwartz, Brandon O'Neill and Brian Gonzales, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Aladdin London Press Launch!

Aladdin is nearly here!!

Last night saw Disney Theatrical's official press launch for Aladdin in the West End!

Disney Theatrical's President Thomas Schumacher took to the stage of the Lyceum Theatre (The Lion King's London home) to welcome the press and take them through Aladdin's journey to the West End.

You may know (or could have reasonably guessed) that Aladdin was Broadway's most attended new show of 2014, but did you know it was actually 2015's most attended show on Broadway?!  How amazing is that!  Aladdin has had the fastest international roll out that Disney Theatrical have ever done and now it's about to open in London!

Dean John-Wilson at the Press Launch rehearsal, Photo by Jade Ewen (via Twitter)

Thomas Schumacher wasn't the only one on stage for the Press Launch as Dean John-Wilson and Jade Ewen took to the stage to perform the Oscar winning "A Whole New World".  Then, Dean went solo for Aladdin's beautiful ballad "Proud of Your Boy" before Trevor Dion Nicholas brought the magic with "Friend Like Me".  How I wish I could have been there to see that!  I'm counting the days until previews begin in May.  I can't wait to see this show!!

You can read what the press thought of the launch right here;

London Theatre
London Theatre 1
Shows In London

That's everything so far but I'm sure there will be more on the way.  I'll update this post as the articles come out.

Aladdin begins previews in London Friday 27th May and officially opens Wednesday 15th June.  You can buy tickets right here at the show's official website.

Trevor Dion Nicholas, Jade Ewen and Dean John-Wilson back stage at the Press Launch
Photo by Dean John-Wilson (via Twitter)

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Aladdin Musical News 2016 (2)

Adam Jacobs & Courtney Reed as Aladdin & Jasmine, Photo by Matthew Murphy

Salaam worthy friends, happy Valentine's Day and welcome to the second Aladdin musical news round up of 2016!  It's an exciting time in Agrabah as the West End cast are preparing to start rehearsals and the original Broadway cast are rapidly approaching the end of their current contracts (fingers crossed they extend again!) so expect to hear some casting news very soon!

Aladdin Broadway - Show News

Aladdin tickets for $45?  It sounds too good to be true but it's not!  There is a catch though.  Broadway Roulette offers you the chance to see some of Broadway's greatest shows, including Aladdin, for an amazing price.  The only catch is you can't pick your show!  If you're like me and travelling thousands of miles to see a specific show then this probably isn't for you, but if you don't mind what you see (or you have a free night after seeing your main show) then this is incredible value for a Broadway show!  You can find full details and a list of all the shows available on their website.

The Associated Press drama writer Mark Kennedy has posted a special look at what he calls "perhaps the most exciting 3 1/2 minutes on Broaday" - Aladdin's 'Prince Ali' sequence.  It's a fantastic glimpse behind the scenes and a reminder that this shows features arguably the best and hardest working ensemble on Broadway.

And check out these Arabian Night Tieks!

Aladdin Broadway - Cast News

Adam Jacobs recently spoke with Playbill about pulling double duty as both a father and a Disney star.

Adam Jacobs spoke with last month about his favourite musical theatre tune.

Adam Jacobs will be singing at Birdland in The Nutty Professor Reunion Concert tomorrow!  Check it out if you can!

Last year Rodney Ingram appeared on the Tyler Mount Vlog, this time it's Courtney Reed's turn as Tyler challenges our Disney Princess to a game of "Disney Name That Tune" that will have you grinning from ear to ear;

Oh, and what did you do on your snow day? ;o)

The Theatre Development Fund will honour Disney Theatrical and Thomas Schumacher at a special gala on Monday 14th March that will be hosted by James Monroe Iglehart and feature an all star line up of Disney's Broadway stars.  You can find out more and book tickets for this very special evening at the TDF's website.

Now for a little Valentine's Day treat as James Monroe Iglehart teams up with Susan Blackwell to get crafty for love.

Steel Burkhardt recently hosted's Live at 5

Aladdin's Nathan Lucrezio (who did that amazing tap video on YouTube) returned to Penn State to join other alumni in We Are... On Broadway!, a one night only concert to help raise the profile of the theatre school and encourage students to study the creative arts.  You can read some articles on the event here and here.

Aladdin's Kathryn Allison is returning to 54 Below for her first solo concert, Sirens, Song and Muses, on 24th March.  You can learn more and buy tickets right here.

What do the Aladdin cast do in their time off?  They get creative!  Watch Nathan Lucrezio and Kathryn Allison cover "Funny" with Jaz Sealey on guitar in a video by Angelo Soriano.

Aladdin's Giuseppe Bausilio recently released covers of "Boys (and Girls) Like You" and "One Call Away".  And you can catch him on the Family Channel's The Next Step.

Aladdin Broadway - Creative Team News

Last week saw the world premiere of Alan Menken's newest musical, A Bronx Tale, which officially opens tonight at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse.  The show reunites Alan with lyricist Glenn Slater (Tangled, Sister Act, Galavant) and is directed by Robert DeNiro and Jerry Zaks.  Last week Alan spoke with North Jersey about what attracted him to the show, the style of music and the creative process for the show and this week Glenn Slater spoke with Playbill about 20 years of making music with Alan Menken!  You can learn a bit more about the production here, go behind the scenes at rehearsals right here and see production photos right here.

Aladdin Broadway - Old Friends

Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who played Omar in the Pilot Production of Aladdin, is reuniting with Director/Choreographer Casey Nicholaw for Tuck Everlasting.  The show is currently in rehearsals for it's upcoming Broadway debut and both Andrew and Casey recently spoke with the Associated Press about the production.

Marisha Wallace recently spoke with The Pickwyck about her role in Something Rotten!

Marisha Wallace has launched her own YouTube channel, Broadway Beat!  You can check it out every week right here!

John Tartaglia, who played Genie in The Muny's production of Aladdin is returning to The Muny this year as the director of their production of The Wizard of Oz.  The show will run from June 13th-22nd this summer.

Big news for Samantha Massell!  After seeing her first cast album, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, released this month its just been announced that the new production of Fiddler on the Roof will release a cast recording next month.  Two cast albums within two months has to be some sort of record!  Samantha isn't the only Aladdin alumni to feature on the recording as Brandt Martinez is also part of the cast!  Congratulations both!

But that's not all!  Samantha also features in the movie Beatbox which will be screened at the Miami International Film Festival!  And you can see Samantha play 20 questions with Broadway Box right here and in a video interview with BWay Zone here.

Aladdin International

Last month saw London's Aladdin and Jasmine, Dean John-Wilson and Jade Ewen, visit Broadway's Agrabah ahead of the upcoming West End production and met their Genie for the first time!

This week Trevor left the bright lights of Broadway;

Trevor Dion Nicholas, Photo by James Monroe Iglehart
Hope he brought that umbrella with him!!

Of course when you're a Genie, there's only one way to travel!

Yes, something truly magical is coming to London and I can't wait for it to arrive!!

London's Aladdin, Dean John-Wilson, has one final stop to make before donning Aladdin's famous fez and vest.  He's starring in the world premiere of Miss Atomic Bomb alongside Catherine Tate at the St James Theatre from 7th March until 9th April.  So if you want to catch Dean before he comes to Agrabah then this is your chance!

If you want to keep up with all of Aladdin's London cast on social media then make sure you check out this page from Stage Faves!

Other Disney Stuff

The big news this week was, of course, the official announcement of Frozen: The Broadway Musical!  Yes, Elsa, Anna and everyone’s favourite snowman will be joining Aladdin and The Lion King on the Great White Way!

Directed by Alex Timbers the show will reunite writer Jennifer Lee with song writers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.  The Broadway production will feature choreography by Peter Darling and will reunite the Aladdin team of Natasha Katz (Lighting Design) and Bob Crowley (Scenic Design), with Crowley also designing the costumes for this production.  Given how amazing Aladdin looks I can’t wait to see what they come up with for Frozen!

There were two big surprises for me with this announcement.  First, how far away it is!  Aladdin was announced in January 2013 and officially opened on Broadway in March 2014.  Frozen won't even begin it's out of town preview run until Summer 2017 (at the Denver Centre for the Performing Arts) and isn't set to reach Broadway until Spring 2018.  Which leads nicely to my second surprise - how long the preview run potentially is.  The Little Mermaid had a similar summer preview run in Denver (July-September 2007) before starting Broadway previews in November that year for a planned December opening (which was ultimately delayed to January by the stagehand strike), whilst Aladdin, which had a March opening on Broadway, didn't being it's Toronto run until November.

To me this shows that Disney have learnt a lot from their recent successes and failures.  The Little Mermaid was the last Disney show announced straight for Broadway.  It and Tarzan, which didn't even have an out of town try out, are generally considered Disney Theatrical's biggest failures (here's where I have to add that I loved Mermaid, I wish I could have seen Tarzan, and both have had success around the world and regionally since so "failure" isn't really the right word).  Even Aladdin, which is a record breaking success, needed a lot of work between it's Toronto run and it's Broadway debut.  Disney have recognised this and given themselves time to make sure they get Frozen right.  They have a long creative window before the show begins it's Denver run (presumably July/August 2017) and with the show not scheduled to hit Broadway until Spring 2018 they'll have plenty of time to enjoy a longer preview run in Denver and a bigger break during which they can do any retooling required before the show opens on Broadway.

I'm really excited to see what Disney and this creative team come up with for Frozen.  I loved the film but musically it was very front loaded so I'm looking forward to hearing all the new material that will have to be created.  I also think that visually this has the potential to be absolutely stunning and the creation of Elsa's ice castle will rival The Lion King's Pride Rock and Aladdin's magic carpet ride.  Disney Theatrical have been on fire recently, with Newsies, Aladdin and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (even if the last one didn't make Broadway) so I have every hope that this will be something very special as well.

And speaking of Hunchback, that brings us nicely to the cast album which has been phenomenally successful, debuting at #5 overall on iTunes and #1 in soundtracks!  The album also debuted at #14 on the billboard charts and #1 for cast albums!  To celebrate the album's release Playbill took a look back at the Paper Mill's production as Michael Arden captured photos from a two show day.

In honour of the album's release Erik Liberman shared a picture of himself with Paul Kandel, the original Clopin.

And if you want to see how this beautiful album was made then check out these videos from Disney on Broadway;

And if that's given you a pressing need to see the Hunchback cast again, Ciara Renee is on Legends of Tomorrow every week (DC sure love their musical theatre stars!) and Patrick Page is appearing tonight at 54 Below in a concert production of I Do! I Do! and tomorrow will be starring in The Roman Actor at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
Adam Jacobs & Courtney Reed as Aladdin & Jasmine, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann