Friday, 14 April 2017

From Making Magic to Making History

Here's wishing for a phenomenally cosmic first night for James Monroe Iglehart as he makes his debut in the sensation that is Hamilton tonight!

All the best James, you're gonna be incredible!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Wish Granted! Aladdin's US Tour Premiere's Tonight!

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin

Make way here he comes!  Fresh from his incredible 3 year Broadway run Adam Jacobs is bringing Aladdin to life once more as Disney's Broadway sensation begins its first US Tour at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre tonight!

Joining Adam in bringing this classic tale to life are Isabelle McCalla as Jasmine, Anthony Murphy as Genie, Jonathan Weir and Reggie De Leon as the villainous Jafar and Iago, JC Montgomery as the Sultan and Zachary Bencal, Philippe Arroyo and Mike Longo as Aladdin's friends Babkak, Omar and Kassim.

You can't make the magic without a phenomenal ensemble and they are Mary Antonini, Michael Bullard, Michael Callahan, Bobby Daye, Lissa Deguzman, Matthew de Guzman, Olivia Donalson, Michael Everett, Karlee Ferreira, Michael Graceffa, Clinton Greenspan, Adrienne Howard, Albert Jennings, Kenway Hon Wai K. Kau, Jason MacDonald, Angelina Mullins, Celina Nightengale, Kameron Richardson, Jaz Sealey (from the original Broadway cast), Charles South, Manny Stark (another Aladdin Broadway alumni who played a fantastic Kassim when I saw the show in February), Annie Wallace and Michelle West.

Completing the cast are Ellis C. Dawson III, as standby Genie and Babkak, and Adam Stevenson, as standby Jafar and Sultan.

You can see the entire cast right here as Broadway in Chicago shared a special preview of the cast rehearsing for tonight's big debut!

And with tonight being the big debut, the cast, along with Disney Theatrical's Thomas Schumacher and composer Alan Menken, have been meeting the local press ahead of their premiere, speaking with the Daily Herald, Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune (the last is an especially touching piece as Alan Menken reflects on his life's work and the influence of Howard Ashman).

After tonight's bow, Aladdin will play through to September 10th in Chicago (a run that's already been extended due to demand), then the magic carpet will travel to Minneapolis' Orheum Theatre from September 15th through to October 8th before returning to the show's birth city of Seattle from October 12th through October 29th with more tour dates still to come.

But that's the future.  For tonight I just want to wish the very best of luck to all of the incredible cast, crew and creative team who are about to bring this show to life.  You've worked hard to get this moment, now enjoy it, you've earned every success.  Make some magic everyone!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Aladdin Celebrates 3 Years on Broadway!

Three years already?! And what an amazing three years they've been!

Keep making magic everyone and thanks for all the wishes!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

One Last Chance to See Two Broadway Originals

Brandon O'Neill as Kassim with Jonathan Schwartz, Brian Gonzales and the cast of Aladdin

Once a citizen of Agrabah, always a citizen of Agrabah!

There's been a lot of comings and goings recently at New York's New Amsterdam Theatre, with Adam Jacobs and James Monroe Iglehart leaving and Joshua Dela Cruz and Major Attaway stepping up to lead the show.  Sometimes illness or injury can leave the cast a little short handed - last year I saw Michael Mindlin really step up and do double duty, playing both Omar and his ensemble role in the same show!  And that's what's happened recently, with Steel Burkhardt currently out of the show due to an injury and his understudy Manny Stark (who was a fantastic Kassim when I saw the show last month) leaving to do the tour, Brandon O'Neill returned last week to step in!  Yes, the ORIGINAL KASSIM is back!!

How awesome is that!!

Brandon's been back in the show these last two weeks and you can catch him having one last High Adventure today!

And he's not the only!

I just watched @jamesmiglehart do "Friendlike Me," at @aladdin the musical on Broadway.... am I dreaming??
— Courtney Reed (@RhodesReed) March 18, 2017

Yes, for this weekend only James is back!!

I guess this proves you can never be sure that it's a "final" performance as you just never know when someone's going to come home to Agrabah!  This just makes me even more hopeful that one day the band will all get back together to do a live recording like the awesome one they did for Newsies last year.

For now you can catch Brandon and James one more time at today's show!  So if you're in NYC you know where you need to be!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

There's a New Genie in Town!

Major Attaway as Genie, Photo by Matthew Murphy

It's the dawn of a new era at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre.  Tonight Major Attaway takes over as Aladdin's new Genie!

I just want to wish Major the very best of luck for tonight and for a long and successful run.  The lamp is yours now, enjoy the ride and make some magic!  You're gonna do great!

Trevor Dion Nicholas & Gregg Barnes Win What's On Stage Awards for London's Aladdin!

Trevor Dion Nicholas and the cast of London's Aladdin, Photo by Deen Van Meer

There was a party in Agrabah this weekend as the West End production of Disney's Aladdin celebrated not one but two What's On Stage Award wins!

First Gregg Barnes took home the award for Best Costume Design for his beautiful work.  I still think it's a crime that he wasn't nominated for the Tony Award back in 2014, his work on this show is simply exquisite, every piece is unique and the colours just breathe so much life onto the stage, so I'm delighted to see his work rewarded here.

Then, in what will hopefully be the first of many awards this season, Trevor Dion Nicholas was awarded Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his show stopping portrayal of Genie!  If you've seen the man live then you know that there's just no words to express how well deserved this award is.  Trevor is a star in every sense of the word and his energy and joy lift everyone in the theatre whenever he is on stage.

Massive congratulations to you both!  What a fantastic start to the awards season, here's wishing for many more to come!

Monday, 20 February 2017

"I Just Love a Happy Ending"

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.