Archive for Aladdin
The reviews are in for Aladdin and though the critics don’t strike 100% agreement, the overall sentiment is that this BIG comedy musical is perfect for anyone looking for light-hearted fun with a whole lot of spirit. There’s magic at play here. With all the dazzling Broadway costumes and scene settings, the flying carpet (yup, you read that right, the flying carpet), and the fun, stylized direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw, the New Amsterdam Theatre is transformed into a palace of wonder nightly. How’s the acting? Go to see the comedic and charismatic Genie, James Monroe Iglehart, who’s woven a complex and quirky menu of characters into his portrayal. You know the story and you love the songs, now go experience the unabashed wonder of Aladdin live — just maybe leave your jaded, critical self at home.
NEW YORK TIMES
“If a genie had sprung from my teakettle last week and offered to grant me three wishes, I might impulsively have asked to be spared any more children’s musicals. Since a certain blockbuster feline arrived well over a decade ago, Broadway has been lapped by wave after wave of big, often gloppy songfests adapted from animated movies, mostly from the mother ship, Disney. So the prospect of Aladdin, promising another weary night in the presence of a spunky youngster and wisecracking animals, didn’t exactly set my heart racing. But this latest musical adapted from one of Disney’s popular movies, which opened on Thursday night at the New Amsterdam Theater, defied my dour expectations. As directed and choreographed (and choreographed, and choreographed) by Casey Nicholaw, and adapted by the book writer Chad Beguelin, Aladdin has an infectious and only mildly syrupy spirit. Not to mention enough baubles, bangles and beading to keep a whole season of RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants in runway attire. “
NBC NEW YORK
“Don’t be fooled by the title of Disney’s latest film-to-stage transfer. Aladdin may be named after its lead street urchin character, but the musical comedy that just opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre is all about one character: the Genie. That’s due to the casting of the energetic James Monroe Iglehart, who all but erases the memory of Robin Williams, the voice of the Genie in the 1992 animated film. It’s rare that you see an actor playing a character he was born to play in a career-defining performance. Iglehart, last seen on Broadway in Memphis, uses his background in improv to create a comedic and charismatic Genie, who’s equal parts Fats Waller, Luther Vandross and Oprah Winfrey (“You get a wish! You get a wish!”).”
“Its exotic Middle Eastern setting and multiethnic cast aside, Aladdin offers less “A Whole New World” – to quote its signature song – than a traditional Disney fairy-tale realm; it’s perhaps the most old-school of the company’s screen-to-stage adaptations since Beauty and the Beast. But that shouldn’t deter audiences from making this splashy Arabian Nights wish-fulfillment fantasy into a family-friendly hit. Directed and choreographed by musical comedy specialist Casey Nicholaw with loads of retro showmanship, an unapologetic embrace of casbah kitsch and a heavy accent on shtick, this is sweet, silly fun. It’s not the most sophisticated entertainment, but the target demographic won’t mind at all.”
“The magic-carpet ride is magical. The Cave of Wonders is wonderful. And yes, you’ll hear the tunes you loved in the 1992 movie. But the notion that “Disney Aladdin” somehow resurrects the spirit of the late Howard Ashman, who had the original inspiration for the movie and contributed most of its clever lyrics, is a joke. Restoring a person’s work without respecting his artistic sensibility is no tribute at all. If this super-costly Disney extravaganza doesn’t really represent Ashman’s artistic vision, whose vision does it reflect? Chad Beguelin (Elf, The Wedding Singer), who wrote the book and contributed new lyrics, obviously plays a significant role, as does Alan Menken, who scored the film and wrote new songs for the show. Even more so does helmer-choreographer Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon), who stylistically turns the film’s romantic fairy-tale adventure into shtick comedy.”
“The carpet flies, kids, and it’s awesome. Aladdin, an urchin from the streets, and Princess Jasmine float far away into the extremely twinkly sky. Such awesomeness, of course, is to be expected from Aladdin, Disney’s latest Broadway translation of a beloved animated fantasy. But what’s a whole new world, as the song promises, is the almost modest, down-to-earth human scale of director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw’s big, cheerful production — an enjoyable throwback to old-time musical comedy.”
All of the nominations are out for the various awards, with most expecting Matilda and Kinky Boots to take home the big prizes this year. It’s always surprising to see flops, like Hands on a Hardbody (which closed after only 28 performances) and Scandalous (which closed after 29) make the lists at all, but there will be a lot of close categories this year. (For a full list of all nominees for all of the various awards, click here.)
Here’s when all of the award ceremonies will take place:
Tony Awards: June 9, 8pm EST
Drama Desk Awards: May 19, 8pm EST
Drama League Awards: May 17, 12pm EST
Outer Critics Circle: Announced May 13
(NOTE: The Theatre World Awards have yet to announce dates…)
And all of the nominated shows…
But enough awards talk, on to exciting NEW things!
First up is one that is confirmed (and already marquee’d) for Broadway: First Date – a new musical about a horrible blind date. It’s slated to begin previews July 9 and open August 4. The show played well to the Seattle crowd and is still undergoing more changes before hitting, the Great White Way – seems a bit better suited for Off-Broadway, but who knows, maybe it’ll be next season’s runaway hit…
The other confirmed musical is Big Fish, an adaptation of the film that’ll star the oh-so-talented Norbert Leo Butz and Kate Baldwin. With Susan Stroman at the helm, there are a lot of big names attached to the project, which is now doing it’s out of town try out in Chicago, so it’s likely going to be a difficult investment to recoup.
Next up is Always… Patsy Cline, a jukebox musical telling the story of Patsy’s life through the eyes of her most devoted fan. Motown is still doing well box-office-wise, so the jukebox musical isn’t likely to die anytime soon. We’ll see if Patsy’s songs can fare better than some of the more recent attempts in this genre.
Prince of Broadway is another jukebox musical looking to open in the fall – celebrating the shows Hal Prince helped make into the big hits they were, this musical will have a bit more self-awareness than other jukebox musicals and a fantastic cast, including: Linda Lavin, Sebastian Arcelus, Sierra Boggess, Daniel Breaker, Josh Grisetti, Shuler Hensley, Richard Kind, Amanda Kloots-Larsen, LaChanze, Caroline O’Connor, David Pittu and Emily Skinner. But apparently that cast is part of the reason the show didn’t open when it was originally slated to do so. Will this one end never making it to opening night? We’ll just have to wait and see…
Then we’ve got Diner, with Sheryl Crow penning the score and lyrics and Barry Levinson, the film’s director and writer on the book. Bosting an Academy Award, Emmy Award and Grammy Award between them, this pair is hoping to add some Tony’s to their shelf too.
Beyond that are a number of shows that have tentative and out-of-town announcements, including:
Rocky: The Musical (a German transfer based on the film and directed by Alex Timbers)
Houdini (with music by Stephen Schwartz and starring Hugh Jackman)
Ever After (based on the film and directed by Kathleen Marshall)
Bullets Over Broadway (based on the film and directed by Susan Stroman)
Les Miserables (with fresh scenic and narrative elements and new orchestrations)
Aladdin (based on the Disney film and directed by Casey Nicholaw)
Some exciting stuff in there…hopefully they all make it to Broadway!
What are you most looking forward to seeing?