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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 Chad Beguelin

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. “

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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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The reviews for Elf are in…

The reviews for Elf are in and the critics were largely nonplussed. Everyone agrees that though the actors give it a valiant effort, Sebastian Arcelus just can’t quite fill Will Ferrel’s shoes and the rest of the cast simply isn’t given much to work with. They do what they can with it though, the choreography is a fun Broadway throwback and the script stays true to the movie, with a couple of fun additions. The music is forgettable, but what were you expecting? It’s a holiday show – on par with White Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas – created for those who have made it a tradition to see such shows this time of year. So if you’re looking for silly holiday fun…Elf just might fit the ticket. If you’re looking for a really fantastic new musical, seems you may want to look elsewhere.

Here’s what the critics had to say:

Variety

Happy enough for families, savvy enough for city kids and plenty smart for adults…Nicholaw’s staging successfully retains the many charms of the movie, and his choreography is filled with delightful touches…Librettists Thomas Meehan (The Producers) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) retain the spirit and cheer of the film while cannily punching it up…The efforts of Nicholaw, Meehan and Martin compensate for a less-than-overwhelming score from Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin; their work is only slightly better than on their earlier attempt, The Wedding Singer. Read the full review

The New York Times

The latest seasonal stocking stuffer and pocket picker…tinseled in synthetic sentiment, performed with a cheer that borders on mania, and instantly forgettable…The score is generic, true, but it is also polished, hummable-tune laden and professional. Mr. Beguelin’s lyrics, at their best, have a bright comic zest and are well-matched to Mr. Sklar’s gently swinging music…The director, Casey Nicholaw, coaxes fine work from the performers, who do their chores with unfailing commitment. Read the full review

New York Post

A giant spoonful of uncut sugar…The screen Buddy was played by Will Ferrell, who brings a naughty, slightly sleazy quality to everything he does. Here, we get the sunny, milquetoast Sebastian Arcelus. He’s appealing and works very hard, but lacks the gleefully anarchic strain that made Ferrell’s Buddy such a cathartic force of nature. But then, everything has been toned down several notches. Book writers Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Thomas Meehan (Hairspray, The Producers) can’t seem to tell the difference between childlike and childish. It’s all very tasteful and safe, when the show should conjure semi-lawless energy…Luckily, the main cast members are easy to like…Too bad they all feel underused. Read the full review

Entertainment Weekly

A surprisingly diverting confection that’s a sleigh-length ahead of recent seasonal fare on the Great White Way…Relative newcomer Sebastian Arcelus has the right blend of antic innocence for the role, though his modest singing voice and lower wattage suggest he’s less an above-the-title leading man than an apt choice for a made-for-DVD Elf sequel. Composer Matthew Sklar and lyricist Chad Beguelin…offer a stockingful of pleasantly melodic tunes…Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin’s book remains mostly faithful to the movie while adding a few humorous modern flourishes…A modest show with modest charms, but director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw keeps the production humming along. Read the full review

USA Today

Director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw and his game, nimble cast allow us to enjoy the ride, however predictable. The players aren’t helped much by the formulaic songs of Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin. Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin’s libretto isn’t long on surprises, either — there are the usual cheeky pop-culture references and ingratiating nods to tourists and locals — but it provides some easy, breezy laughs. Read the full review

The Hollywood Reporter

Flavorless candy…A pedestrian show that broadens the material to be more specifically kid-friendly, rendering it innocuous in the process…Nicholaw has a better feel for period styles than he does for contemporary cute, and the writers struggle to make the mostly second-hand jokes land. Their efforts are given little support by a mediocre score…With few exceptions, the sound-alike numbers blend into one, and the lethargic dance interludes provide minimal elevation. It’s all pleasant, but generic…The cast does what it can with the wan material. Read the full review

Time Out New York

Fair-to-middling musical…It is not the fault of this Elf’s star, the hardworking Sebastian Arcelus, that he lacks Ferrell’s unique earnest-ironic comic charisma; but without it, Buddy is just an overeager naïf in green tights, and the plot’s corn doesn’t pop. Directed and choreographed with routinized showbiz gumption by Casey Nicholaw, the show provides little chance for anyone to shine…Earns dutiful applause but no Christmas cheers. Read the full review

Associated Press

Who needs Will Ferrel?…[Elf] stands on its own with great sets and design, a funny adapted script and a collection of hardworking actors…a tight, polished, expensive-looking affair that has enough jokes for adults and enough special effects for kids. And The Rockettes have some serious competition this Christmas season…Nicholaw’s choreography is a throwback to classic Broadway, sometimes with a twist. Read the full review

Bloomberg News

Parents hoping to avoid trendy seasonal cynicism may be tempted to lay out $137 apiece for orchestra seats. Be warned: Your children over 8 years old will never forgive you. The Magic Flute at the Met is sterner stuff, no joke…The mischievous wit for which Thomas Meehan (The Producers and Hairspray) is known seems to have been rubbed too smooth by his co-writer, Bob Martin…the tunes are instantly forgettable and you can predict every rhyme a mile away…Casey Nicholaw, the director-choreographer who brought a fine retro stylishness to “Drowsy Chaperone,” does well here with a limited company…The dancing hardly breaks new ground, but at least the seamless non-stop busyness on stage diverts us from the gooey goings-on. Read the full review

Backstage

Too sweet and a big mess…too much of the show is overly familiar…Casey Nicholaw’s direction and choreography aren’t particularly fresh…Even the design elements are halfhearted. The usually imaginative David Rockwell has provided cheap-looking sets for this flimsy Christmas card…Most of the songs sound like every Christmas tune you’ve ever heard. It’s only when they are called upon to depict an emotion other than holiday cheer that they really cook. Read the full review

Have you seen the show? What did you think?

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