|James Monroe Iglehart & Adam Jacobs as Genie & Aladdin, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann|
It's been an emotional month at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre. Adam Jacobs took his final bow as Broadway's original Aladdin on February 12th and yesterday James Monroe Iglehart granted his final wish as he concluded his Tony Award winning run as Genie.
I'll be honest, it's a day I always knew would come but hoped never would. If I could have frozen the show in time with its phenomenal cast I would have (and if Disney Theatrical could get these guys back for a live recording like they just did with Newsies I would literally cry with joy). But part of the magic of live theatre is that it is fleeting, it exists only for a moment and is constantly evolving as actors find new nuances in the characters they play and new actors take on the roles. Adam and James originated these roles, they took words on a page and, with the support of their cast mates and an incredible creative team, turned them into something truly magical. Now Adam gets to share that magic with the whole country on tour and James begins new journey at Hamilton where new challenges and opportunities await. And at the New Amsterdam Major Attaway and Joshua Dela Cruz now have their chance to show audiences their versions of these beloved characters and make their own magic
I feel blessed to have seen the show on Broadway every year since it opened. Being in the audience for Adam's final show is something I can't adequately put into words. It felt like the end of a journey. From Seattle to Toronto to Broadway, this has been an amazing journey for both men. The crowd erupted with cheers as James urged them to "Give it up for Mr. Jacobs!" during Friend Like Me's tap dance and I had tears in my eyes at the end of the number when he turned to Adam and said "One last time buddy, let's take it home". How Courtney held it together during that final magic carpet ride I have no idea, but the tears were flowing (hers and mine) as Aladdin and Genie and Adam and James said goodbye to each other on stage. "Genie, I'm gonna miss you" and "You'll always be a prince to me" have never carried as much emotion as they did that evening. It was a magical, emotional experience that I'll never forget and always treasure.
To have followed the journey of this show and these amazing actors has been an honour and a privilege, but more than anything else it's been a joy. Every time I've seen the show I've felt that infectious joy radiate from the stage and life the spirits of the audience. Every article, interview or tweet I've read from other fans about how Adam and James (and their fantastic co-stars) have inspired them to chase their own dreams. That's the real magic. I am so grateful to you both for sharing that with the world.
I just want to wish you both the very best for the future and whatever life may hold in store. Thank you, for everything. I know this show is going to run for years to come. I'm going to see dozens of incredibly talented actors take on these roles and make them their own. I already have. But, no matter what happens, you guys will always be Al and Genie to me.