Thursday, February 27, 2014

Aladdin the Musical on Broadway- Opening Preview 02/26/14

When I heard that Disney's animated classic Aladdin would be coming to the Great White Way this Spring, I purchased tickets right on the spot. I really wanted to get tickets to opening night, but they are not on sale to the general public. Instead, I got the next best thing: tickets to Opening Preview, which was held last night down at the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street. So, after work ended, I picked up my best friend Megan, and together we headed down into the city for what was going to be a fun filled evening.

When we arrived around 7:30pm, the crowds were gathering. It was COLD outside of the theatre. I should have bundled up better.

Once we got into the lobby, I knew what my first stop was... the merchandise kiosk. In addition to picking up my prepaid Aladdin Magic Lamp Ornament, I was hoping to be able to order the upcoming Cast Album Recording. Fortunately, they were taking pre-orders for them. I did the pre-order for when the Newsies Cast Album Recording came out, and it arrived two weeks earlier than announced.

Also for sale were some trinkets, including purse tassels, compact mirrors, and coin purses. There were also a variety of t-shirts, a window card, and a beach towel.

At the concession stand was the normal over-priced theatre fare. Drinks were served in Aladdin collectible cups, and they had some special Aladdin inspired cocktails and mocktails.

What's that? Oh right, there was a musical. I am not going to give away many spoilers, but safe to say it was an amazing musical. It payed homage to the movie, while at the same time boldly saying from the onset that this was a retelling of what we all knew, and to expect changes. For me, the show was excellently cast. Here are some highlights:

Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed are the perfect Aladdin and Jasmine, respectively. I enjoyed how they give Jasmine a bigger voice in this version of the story. As for Aladdin, he is given a purpose, and a cause for which he was after, aside from winning Jasmine's heart. The acting by both Jacobs and Reed only excel the improved characters there on stage. 

James Monroe Iglehart plays the Genie. No more the impersonator, but still the comedian, the Genie is now less slapstick, more substance (in a lot of good ways), and a bigger part of the story. He is now the role of storyteller, bringing the audience into one of the 1,001 Arabian Nights. For his part, Iglehart is amazing. At the end of "A Friend Like Me" last night, he deservingly brought the house down, getting a standing ovation even before Act I finished.

Don Darryl Rivera plays Iago. Even though Iago is no longer a parrot, but a human, it does not mean that the character is any less disturbing and creepy. Some of the best lines of comedy come from this character. At times you are laughing at him, others laughing with him, and still others you are cringing at the very thought that he is serious with what he is saying. The part calls for the actor to be over the top, and that is what Rivera is... and he is superb.

Finally, the reason I was so excited to be there last night... Jonathan Freeman as Jafar. Does that name ring a bell? Well, for all of my Disney fanatic friends out there, you might recognize Freeman as the voice of Jafar in Aladdin. Wait.... what? Yup! Jafar from the movie is Jafar in the show. Freeman is a Broadway veteran, and a creepy Jafar on stage. He is such a presence on stage, and very enjoyable.

OK, so some of you probably are wondering about other aspects of the show. Well, i promised I would not give too much away. However, here are a few hopefully non-spoilers.

~ The Cave of Wonders silhouette... breathtaking. 

~ The Flying Carpet/ "A Whole New World" segment... worth the price of admission alone. I still don't know 100% how they could pull that off so effortlessly and magically.

~ People have asked me to compare it to the stage show out at Disney's California Adventure. I have personally not seen it, but caught up with it via YouTube videos... and the Broadway version blows anything they do over there out of the water.

~ The costume budget alone for the "Prince Ali" number must be staggering. When you see it you will know what I am talking about.

~ The only downside? The ending did feel a little lackluster, mainly because of the choices they had to made. It was still a good ending, but less action packed and snaky as i would have liked.

Afterwards, Megan and I stagedoored, where we got to meet the cast and congratulate them on a job well done.

Megan with Adam Jacobs (Aladdin).

Courtney Reed (Jasmine) and I.

Megan and I with James Monroe Iglehart (Genie).

Megan and I with Don Darryl Rivera (Iago).

The one and only Jonathan Freeman (Jafar) and I.

So, there you have it: my (not so much of a) review of Aladdin. If i didn't think all of you should be seeing it, then I could, and would, talk about it more. However, it's safe to say that you will not be disappointed when you see it.

To purchase tickets to see Aladdin on Broadway, you can visit the Ticketmaster website here.

What would you wish for if you had three wishes?

I'm coming back! Well... hopefully.

Hey guys!

Recently, I have noticed that, although I do a lot of writing on other websites, I do not write a lot for myself. Anything from how i enjoyed a movie or a TV series, to things my friends are doing that I want you all to know about, to... well, whatever really... I rely on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get across. And, though those branches of social media are fine for the day to day, I wanted an outlet where I can flesh out my thoughts if need be.

I remembered this site I had going back in 2009/ 2010, when i tried to do my own comic strip. It's still in existence. Although it's purpose has now changed, it will remain an extension of my dysfunctional, crazy life. I probably won't be posting in it every day, but this will be a place where I can share my life with you if it needs more than a two sentence status update.

Thanks guys! ~Travis