The Broadway Musical Blog – Musical theater news and gossip from the Great White Way

Dishing out daily (or almost daily) Broadway musical news and gossip. The companion site to The Broadway Musical Home (broadwaymusicalhome.com), a directory of Broadway musicals with the story, songs, merchandise, video clips, lyrics, tickets, rights & awards for almost 200 shows.

Archive for Alan Menken

The Reviews for Aladdin are in…

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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. “

Read the Full Review

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!”).”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“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.”

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VARIETY

“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.”

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NEWSDAY

“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.”

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WEEKLY DEAL ALERT: Get the Newsies Original Broadway Cast Album for only $5.99

Every week we scour the web to find the best musical theatre deals on cast albums, videos, sheetmusic, tickets, merchandise and more, but many items are available at these great prices for a limited time only, so grab them while you can…

$5.99 for the Newsies Original Broadway Cast Album

Get the deal!

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The 2012 Drama League Award Winners

The Drama League Awards, the only major theatergoer awards chosen by audience members, have been announced and Once, Follies, Audra McDonald, and Alan Menken took home the big prizes for musical theatre. Each of them also won the Outer Critics Circle Award in their respective categories. Will they get the Tony nod as well?

DISTINGUISHED PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL

Ghost the Musical
Leap of Faith
Mission Drift
Newsies
Nice Work If You Can Get It
winnerOnce
Queen of the Mist

DISTINGUISHED REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL

Carrie
winnerFollies
Evita
The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess
Jesus Christ Superstar

DISTINGUISHED PRODUCTION OF A PLAY

Clybourne Park
The Columnist
The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures
The Lyons
One Man, Two Guvnors
winnerOther Desert Cities
Peter and the Starcatcher
Tribes
Seminar
Septimus and Clarissa
Venus in Fur

DISTINGUISHED REVIVAL OF A PLAY

And God Created Great Whales
winnerDeath of a Salesman
Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
How I Learned to Drive
Look Back in Anger
The Maids
Wit

DISTINGUISHED PERFORMANCE AWARD

Jane Alexander, The Lady From Dubuque
Nina Arianda, Venus In Fur
Annaleigh Ashford, Rent
Angela Bassett, The Mountaintop
Simon Russell Beale, Bluebird
Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow
Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher
Matthew Broderick, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Kim Cattrall, Private Lives
Heather Christian, Mission Drift
James Corden, One Man, Two Guvnors
Michael Cristofer, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures
Tyne Daly, Master Class
Jesse Eisenberg, Asuncion
Linda Emond, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures
Raúl Esparza, Leap of Faith
Santino Fontana, Sons of the Prophet
Andrew Garfield, Death of a Salesman
Russell Harvard, Tribes
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Death of a Salesman
Samuel L. Jackson, The Mountaintop
Jeremy Jordan, Newsies, Bonnie and Clyde
Steve Kazee, Once
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Peter and the Starcatcher
Christine Lahti, Dreams of Flying, Dreams of Falling
Angela Lansbury, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
John Larroquette, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Linda Lavin, The Lyons
Norm Lewis, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Judith Light, Other Desert Cities
Ricky Martin,Evita
Jan Maxwell, Follies
Jefferson Mays, Blood and Gifts
Marin Mazzie, Carrie
winnerAudra McDonald, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Ellen McLaughlin, Septimus and Clarissa
Cristin Milioti, Once
Jessie Mueller, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
Carey Mulligan, Through A Glass Darkly
Cynthia Nixon, Wit
Leslie Odom, Jr., Leap of Faith
Kelli O’Hara, Nice Work If You Can Get It
Denis O’Hare, An Iliad
Lily Rabe, Seminar
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Ghost the Musical
Molly Ransom, Carrie
Condola Rashad, Stick Fly
Matthew Rhys, Look Back In Anger
Alan Rickman, Seminar
Elena Roger, Evita
Jeremy Shamos, Clybourne Park
Kevin Spacey, Richard III
Stephen Spinella, An Iliad
Mary Testa, Queen of the Mist
Blair Underwood, A Streetcar Named Desire
Mary Louise Wilson, 4,000 Miles

PREVIOUS DISTINGUISHED PERFORMANCE WINNERS

The Drama League also wishes to recognize the superb contributions to the season of its previous Distinguished Performance Award winners:

Norbert Leo Butz, How I Learned To Drive
Zoe Caldwell, Elective Affinities
Kathleen Chalfant, Painting Churches
Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities
Rosemary Harris, The Road To Mecca
Hugh Jackman, Hugh Jackman: Back On Broadway
Sir Derek Jacobi, King Lear
James Earl Jones, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
Frank Langella, Man and Boy
John Lithgow, The Columnist
Patti LuPone, An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin
Bebe Neuwirth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Bernadette Peters, Follies
Sam Waterston, King Lear

DISTINGUISHED ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSICAL THEATRE

winnerAlan Menken

UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION TO THE THEATRE

winnerRosie O’Donnell

FOUNDERS AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN DIRECTING

winnerDiane Paulus

The Reviews for Leap of Faith are In…

Reviewers must have been running, not walking, out of the theatre to write these extremely  scathing reviews. For them, Leap of Faith is the biggest blunder of the season. They found that even the normally capable hands of the show’s lead, Raúl Esparza, who had, until now, seemed unable to do any wrong, and the talented song-writing team of Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, the story felt so confused, desperate and flat as to leave NYTimes reviewer Ben Bratley decreeing: “Leap of Faith is this season’s black hole of musical comedy, sucking the energy out of anyone who gets near it.” Somehow I doubt producers will be placing that quote on any of their materials…that is if the show is around long-enough to create additional marketing. These critics would have it shut down on the spot.

NEW YORK TIMES

“Say amen, somebody. Or, better yet, just whimper the word. We’ve finally come to the end of a hard-run overcrowded spring on Broadway. And here, to sound the final trumpet, is one last musical, a show that appropriately expresses how many a dedicated theatergoer must be feeling right now: plumb tuckered out.”

Read the full review

TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW:

“Want to make a ton of money? Peddle God to fools. Want to lose a ton of money? Invest in a Broadway turkey. You can’t have it both ways. It’s perfectly fine—even desirable—if your religion is crude and nonsensical, but a show as bland and confused as Leap of Faith is not going to make rich men of its producers (among whom are actual church leaders). The fake cash distributed by actors to audience members—so we may place it in the offertory baskets at Jonas Nightingale’s revivalist hoedowns—is all the green this wanly tacky production is likely to see.”

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

“The last musical of the official Broadway season comes into town like a huckster promising salvation. But it’s the show itself that needs saving. There’s a strong musical somewhere in “Leap of Faith,” which stars a soulful Raul Esparza and has some of Alan Menken’s best songs. But what opened Thursday at The St. James Theatre is sometimes confusing in its tone. Like its main character – the devious faith healer Rev. Jonas Nightingale, ready to scam residents of a down-and-out Kansas town – the musical is hard to pin down. There’s too much misdirection.”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“The 1992 movie no doubt has its fans, but for this reviewer, Leap of Faith was a charmless yawn whose chief distinction was the embarrassing weirdness of watching Steve Martin jogging in a crop top. Part fable about self-discovery and redemption and part takedown of shyster evangelism, the film fudged its position on whether the cynical main character had been truly enlightened by his spiritual journey, or whether such a journey had even occurred. The stage musical improves on the original simply by settling on a point of view. But despite Raul Esparza’s hard-working lead performance and some rousing Gospel numbers from Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, the story remains stubbornly unappealing.”

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NEWSDAY

“Sociocultural theses may be written about the season when Broadway got dead serious about Christianity. Not only do we have earnest, grandiose revivals of “Godspell” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” but here comes a true-believing musical, “Leap of Faith,” flat-lined out of the charming and touching 1992 Steve Martin movie about a con man preacher. The show, which has been surrounded by an assortment of rumors and incarnations since 2006, has arrived in director Christopher Ashley’s skimpy, hard-driving production, unsure of its tone and unable to figure out how best to use its star, Raúl Esparza.”

Read the full review

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