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.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

James Monroe Iglehart in Concert

Fresh off his sold out solo concerts at 54 Below and in the final weeks of his Tony Award winning run as Aladdin's Genie, James Monroe Iglehart is performing in concert tonight at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in two solo shows!

You can still get tickets so if you're in the New York/New Jersey area today you don't want to miss this!  It's sure to be an incredible night of music and laughter.  You've never had a friend like him!

The Lamp is Passed on The View!

James Monroe Iglehart and Whoopi Goldberg as Genie!

Last week saw an extra special guest pay a surprise visit to Aladdin as Whoopi Goldberg took to the stage as Genie!

This week that magical moment was shared with the world as The View took viewers behind the scenes at the New Amsterdam Theatre to see how the magic was made.  Then The View played host to two extra special guests as James Monroe Iglehart and Major Attaway dropped by to discuss the passing of the magic lamp!

You can see the whole thing right here;

Watch that I just have to say Major's mom is the best!  That jumper was fantastic!

Whilst preparing for her Aladdin debut, Whoopi and James took a little time to discuss the role with Disney Theatrical's Thomas Schumacher;

I just love what he says about getting the audience to cheer for freedom and how powerful that is.

And with an extra special performance the lamp is passed;

I've been lucky enough to see both James and Major play the Genie on Broadway and I can safely say that Aladdin has got a fantastic new Genie in Major and James is certainly going to bring some magic to Hamilton!

You can still catch James Monroe Iglehart as Genie until 19th February, then from 21st February Major Attaway will be making the magic.  James will make his Hamilton debut in April.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Major Attaway is Broadway's New Genie!

Major Attaway as Genie, Photo by Disney Theatrical
There's a new Genie in town!  On February 21st Major Attaway will take over the most magical role on Broadway as Aladdin's Genie!  Major is no stranger to the role, having been Stand By Genie for the last year, and now his wish is granted as he takes on the role full-time!

He's got a big magic lamp to fill but I'm sure Major will make the role his own and give audiences all the magic they could possible wish for.  He sure did when I was fortunate enough to see him last year!

Congratulations Major, I wish you all the best for a long and magical run!

And here's wishing a warm Agrabah welcome to Deonte L. Warren to joins the cast as the new Stand By Genie and Babkak!

James Monroe Iglehart Prepares to Grant His Final Wish

James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Photo by Disney Theatrical

I don't know why but I never thought this day would come, or maybe I just wished it wouldn't.  Disney Theatrical announced this morning that James Monroe Iglehart, who's brought the Genie to magical life since the first Seattle try out, will grant his final wish on Sunday February 19th.

So what's next for Broadway's most beloved wish granter?  Hamilton!  Yep, you'll need a real Genie to stand a chance of getting tickets to see him now!  James will take on the dual role of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in April (date to be confirmed) in Broadway's sold out smash hit!

But for the next month you can still catch him making magic and bring audiences to their feet in Agrabah and I would urge you to do just that.  No one makes magic quite like James Monroe Iglehart!

With both James and Adam leaving the show (or at least the Broadway production in Adam's case) it feels a bit like the end of The Return of the King and the breaking of the Fellowship.  Ok, that's probably a bit overly dramatic (unless Disney Theatrical have any more surprise announcements up their sleeve we still have original principals Courtney, Don Darryl, Jonathan and Brian from the Seattle production and Clifton who's been with the show since Toronto) but it really does feel like this is the end of an era in many ways.

James, I wish you all the best for Hamilton and can't wait to see you bring the house down in your final weeks in Agrabah!