What if you could escape into a Whole New World, even if it was for two-and-a-half hours? What if this new world was a Whole New World of real freedom? You now have that opportunity with Disney’s Aladdin.
The Broadway Touring Company is performing at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis until November 25.
From the orchestra’s first note of the overture and the curtain drops, you are mesmerized. You immediately are carted off into a magical land of possibilities; a land where honesty is held in honor and integrity is rewarded.
Michael James Scott introduces us to the middle-eastern town of Agrabah, where Princess Jasmine meets the charming Aladdin. MJ Scott is genie-us as the Genie. From the opening number, “Arabian Nights,” he builds the anticipation for that magical carpet ride.
I had the unique opportunity of meeting MJ Scott when he starred in "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway during its opening season. I knew he was a mega-talent, I now know he is a magical mega-talent.
Humor compliments the artistry throughout the show, from references of 0% body fat to the punning pyramid schemes to Princess Jasmine asking, “What’s wrong with a woman running a Kingdom?” And the response, “Talk about a fairy tale.”
So many life lessons are woven into the show. You learn the value of being a diamond in the rough, the power of honesty, why you rely on a true friend, and the courage to make three wishes, saving one for someone who needs it more than you.
Lissa deGuzman is brilliant as the beautiful Princess Jasmine. Her sincerity and pure heart parallel her confidence and determination.
In this performance, Pierre Marais played the role of Aladdin. His performance was flawless and easily worth top billing at any show. The chemistry between Aladdin and Genie, Aladdin and Jasmine, and Aladdin and his sidekicks of Babkak, Omar, and Kassim are spot-on. This is by far one of the most complete company of actors I have seen.
The show stopper is at the end of Act I with “Friend Like Me.” The choreography is incredible and the ensemble one of the tightest and most complete. And, when Act II begins with “Prince Ali,” the energy keeps building. There are so many quick costume changes I lost count.
When Aladdin and Jasmine shared that magic carpet ride with “A Whole New World,” you could hear a pin drop in the theatre. When the number ended, a group of ladies sitting behind me commented, “that is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen.”
And, I agree with that sentiment in my assessment of “Aladdin.” It is truly a beautiful performance. Treat yourself to “A Whole New World.” Go to https://www.aladdinthemusical.com/tour/ to see when the Genie and company is in your neighborhood.
For years, I would debate anyone that Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” was the greatest musical ever written and performed. That was until I saw “The Book of Mormon” shortly after it opened. I was totally engulfed in the humor, the lyrics, and the innocence of the characters.
This past weekend I revisited New York’s finest newsboys. “Newsies” is indeed the King of New York. The chemistry this cast has is unprecedented. The talent this cast has is extraordinary. This musical is … well, there is nothing else quite like it. It is by far the greatest musical. The debate is now on!!!
Corey Cott as Jack Kelly owns the city, owns the theatre, and owned the heart of every member of this sold-out audience. Ben Frankhauser as Davey is the strength behind the cause. Torn between his family loyalty, and knowing that what the newsboys must do, his struggles rivet throughout. Andy Richardson as Crutchie captures the passion that makes one root for these guys. His handicap is no handicap for what faces him. His fortitude is contagious. His performance deserves recognition from Broadway’s elite community. This “Trio of Talent” is worth seeing time and time and time again.
I immediate fell in love with LaVon Fisher-Wilson, Medda Larkin, and her sensual manipulations. Her protective nature of Jack and the boys catches those who frequent her establishment off guard. She nailed a gorgeous performance through and through.
Lyrically, this production is breathless. Choreographically, I’ve seen nothing quite like it. The height of the leaps, the stunts, the synchronization, the tap routine … I can go on and on. Several dance numbers ended in some of the longest applause and “hoorays” one would expect at a come-from-behind sporting victory. This production is unstoppable. Musically, the score kept me humming and singing for days. “Seize the Day” is my new anthem.
On a personal note, this cast is some of the nicest, most genuine folks I have met. Not only did they take time after the show to make each fan feel appreciated, but on Sunday I worked across these guys at the Broadway Flea Market. Their commitment to a better New York and a better tomorrow resonates throughout.
“Newsies,” the cast and crew, are indeed the “Kings of New York.”
As Venice closes, the cast proclaims “Our moment to shine!” Mission accomplished.
Venice, playing at The Public Theatre, wonders in a dystopian world, a world where man vs. manhood and revenge vs. sacrifice. This is a world where love and selfish greed prevail.
Beautifully staged thrust, many in the audience compared the staging to “Hit List” from “Smash.” Techno-text and LED Images kept us mesmerized and fully engaged. Each scene represented a chapter in the story and the lives of those in Venice’s world. The tech displays keep us alerted to the story’s progression.
Leslie Odom, Jr. as Markos Monroe, the half-brother of Venice (Haaz Sleiman) delivers a chilling performance. You love and admire Markos’ self-confidence and are disturbed by his driven manipulation. Odom’s “Last Man” shows off his amazing vocals that range from a soulful Luther Vandross to the iconic Usher. There is probably not a finer actor, character creator, and engaging performer than Odom.
Victoria Platt as Markos’ wife is stunning. Her beauty and vocals are mesmerizing. You feel her internal pain and struggles. The audience embraces her every move and revels in her pivotal decision.
Act One ends with “Liberation, Pull Up The People,” which is destined to be an anthem for those who challenge the status quo, follow their core beliefs, and are determined to change the future for the better.
As the show climaxed, there was a lady in the front row that was very animated with her reactions to the story and the tragedy evolving. She validated that the raw emotions from this stellar ensemble confirmed it was their “moment to shine.”
Two names to remember – Matt Sax and Chase Brock. Matt establishes the pace for the show as the Clown/MC and keeps the audience engaged and the story on edge. As you read the credits, you realize this clever, vibrant performer also created the music and lyrics. It is his vision you are experiencing.
Chase’s choreography is genius. He tells a remarkable story through dance and movement at multiple levels that involves every corner of the theatre available to him. He captures the audience’s attention and draws them in time and time again.
Venice plays through June 30 at the Public Theatre. Go to http://publictheatre.org for more information and to purchase your tickets. It is a night worth experiencing. When it comes to a very poignant, heart-wrenching, and emotional evening, Venice delivers. Mission accomplished.
Ethan Paulini, Bart, Christopher Sidoli, Wendy Watson
When you think about quintessential Moms, Carol Brady, Clair Huxtable, June Clever, Kitty Forman, and Reba Hart may come to mind. Mix those personalities with a dash of Ms. Garrett and you have the Facts of Mama and Her Boys Life!
A very moving, beautifully scripted, and delightfully entertaining musical is thrilling audiences at the Underground Theatre. Billed as a musical that “explores the dynamic relationship between mothers, sons, and families,” this soulful journey is so much more.
Creatively and masterfully brought to life by Ethan Paulini, Christopher Sidoli, and Wendy Watson, the creators are also the brilliant stars. Their voices unite in a joyous celebration of life, competition, growing pains, and a heart-wrenching realization of an empty nest. Yet, through it all, they proclaim, “We are family.”
When Wendy Watson opens the night, you know Mama is giving one of life’s most memorable lessons. A montage of cleverly written and produced original works is interwoven with classical favorites, hit tunes, and even a sprinkle of sitcom. The vocals from Wendy, Ethan, and Christopher are so beautifully blended, one immediately believes this is a family. Only heredity can produce such harmony!
One moment you are camping through a Cabaret, the next you are immersed in a Spiritual Tent Revival, then you are smack in the middle of Broadway (only a few blocks away), and then you are in the midst of Mama’s bosom – which she invites with great pride! The eclectic mix is electrifying. The brothers harmonize about being “Sisters,” acknowledging they were “Born This Way,” and discover their Daddy had left a heart-broken Mama, who never let it show to her Boys. Tears of laughter, tears of joy, tears of sharing.
Wendy is the perfect Mama! She is the Mom kids wrestling with coming-of-age would love to have. Her vocal performance is uplifting. An incredible range of talent is beautifully gifted to the audience with an incredible range of emotion. You laugh, love, lust, and long for Mama.
Ethan and Christopher are Mama’s proud brothers, or sisters, whichever attitude fits. Their harmonies and vocal performances stop you in your tracks and bring you to your feet. You fall in love with them from the start and don’t want them to go home. You want them to come home with you!
The most poignant moment for me was the finale.
Immediately, I focused on Ethan standing behind and to Mama’s right. As Mama was capturing our souls with her appreciation of life and pride in the boys she raised, the emotions and look in Ethan’s eyes showed us a deep understanding of the sacrifices his mother had made for her boys. My eyes opened widely.
I looked over at Christopher and there was that million dollar smile and heart-stopping glimmer in his eyes.
Immediately, Mama drew me back in and I was captured by the lyrics. I could not take my eyes off Mama. I glanced back to Ethan and now he had that million dollar smile and heart-stopping glimmer. Quickly I glanced to Christopher and his expression was now the one of understanding the sacrifices Mama had made.
The lyrics and transitions of expressions were poignant. I cannot think of any other way to describe that beautiful, tender, and most loving moment between Mama and Her Boys.
Truly, this is an exceptional show by extremely talented storytellers. The Boys love their Mama. Mama loves her boys. They love what they have created and they obviously love each other. I loved being a guest in their home.
A press opening is scheduled for February 25. Performances continue every Monday at 9 pm at the new Underground Theatre, 955 West End Avenue (at W. 107th and Broadway). Tickets, priced $30-$40 are available by calling 866.811.4111 or visiting theatermania.com.
Thursday night I had one of the best Valentine treats possible, the premiere of “Let My People Come.” A revival of the 1970’s hit, tonight’s performance was packed full of emerging actors and singers that are sure to take New York and the Broadway stages by storm.
John Daniel Forslund is to be commended on the genius way he transformed an underground cabaret into an exotic 90 minutes of total entertainment and edgy fun. Updated with today’s social mores and challenges, he brought forward the same issues four decades. Capped off by vocals that would put many Broadway marquee stars to shame, this group also provided the unexpected – total and indisputable chemistry.
From the moment you walked into The Underground Theatre and the actors engaged you and personally made you feel welcomed, you knew you were in for a memorable night.
The first actor to greet me was Haley Selmon, a beautiful blonde bombshell. I knew immediately I was going to enjoy her characterization and interpretation of whatever scene John had her pegged for. What I was blown away by were the amazing vocals she provided and the warmth and interaction she made with every single member of the audience. The response from the audience towards Haley was a brilliant review into itself. Let me just say, they fell in love with her. Male and female!
Brian Craft began his pre-show conversation with me with that heart-warming and somewhat devious “Boy Next Door” image. Any Mother would be proud if her daughter or son brought this one home! The sparkle in his eyes told you he had something up his selves, or in his boxers, depending on the scene! His characterizations and transformations from one frantically mastering the skills of online dating and texting to a loyalty of love for his partner showed his versatility (and I don’t mean in the online dating sense). Vocally he was masterful. His harmonies and his inflections were flawless. Keep the name “Brian Craft” on your must-see list!
And, the powerhouse voice of the night was John Ryan Del Bosque. The range and intonation of this actor left you with chills. Close your eyes and you felt you were listening to Luther Vandross. Then, the next scene he was harmonizing like a boy band. And then did someone say, “Adam Levine was in the house?” for it sure sounded like him. John’s charisma on stage gave me pause to wonder how someone has not discovered this guy and put his name on the marquee.
What was billed as a fun night and great for a Bachelorette Party may well be the best kept secret of talent and entertainment in the shadows of the Great White Way. The entire cast was flawless and once again John Daniel Forslund is bringing creativity and ingenuity back to the Director’s chair.
Visit LMPCParty.com for more information.
As kids growing up on the Gulf Coast of Texas, hurricanes were something we welcomed. It meant several days out of school and the ability to build rafts that became Pirate Ships or us being make-shift Gilligan Island refugees. Little did we realize the long-lasting devastation that such events bring?
The news reports and images from across the Northeast United States and in my favorite city, New York, are heart wrenching. I have been glued to Facebook and Twitter posts from hundreds of my friends and followers caught in the wrenches of Sandy. Ironically, the revival of “Annie” is opening on Broadway. Somehow, we all knew that “the sun will come out tomorrow, so ya gotta hang on ‘til tomorrow.” And, that they did.
Members of the theatre community started using Facebook to post who had power, water, and food and were opening their doors to those in need. What an amazing display of human support and kinship. And, isn't this what we learn as we study our Success Curriculum? Isn't this how we know that what we are doing is making a difference? Granted, many of the people who posted have not heard of the Success Curriculum (but it’s not due to a lack of touting it on my part!).
What I am learning is that the Success Curriculum is a way of life, a life style if you will … not a lifestyle, but a life style. And the style and class that I see as the recovery efforts begin gives me reason to reach deeper and harder and get the message out even more.
On today’s Marketing call, we discussed how being a part of our company includes living and continuously being a student of this curriculum. That goal is now a mission for me. One of the tenets I have in my business plan is for anyone that joins our company through BetweenMyStageLife.com I am giving back to a cause endearing to the theatre community. But, after thinking about today’s call and after witnessing the groundswell of support from those who stared fear in the eyes, I realize that I have it backwards. I missed the basic.
You don’t wait to give back. You live that life style and others are going to notice and follow and join and be a part of “something incredible.” Yea, that’s the tagline I use.
BENJI SCHWIMMER LAYS IT ALL ON THE LINE.
I have read to the point of nausea the massive amount of campaigning by competitive dancers who use Facebook posts to better their results by victimizing themselves, deliberately begging for sympathy from judges and the audience alike. It's degrading, disrespectful and potentially destructive to the system in which we receive applause, are scored and perceived by our fellow competitors. I encourage everyone to knock it off, stop the double meanings, innuendos, martyrdoms, competitive promotions and sympathy campaigns and just leave the dancing and competition where it should be - the 3 minutes from which you hit the floor to when you hit your ending mark. I encourage all to not buy into this sort of volatile and manipulative behavior by " like " ing, said statements and actions and stick to appreciating dance, hard work and the furthering of art and sport.
Benji is a professional dancer, choreographer, and dancer. In 2006, he was crowed Season Two So You Think You Can Dance Champion and has artistically directs for LeAnn Rimes and Paula Abdul. Known for his versatility in mixing the arts of solo dance and partnering, he also works for the non-profit group Dancers Everywhere Making a Needed Difference (DEMAND). Benji is the songwriter, producer, and vocalists for the pop-rock band The Weekend Forecast.
Corey Cott ... (c) Tristan Fuge
As featured on TheaterMania.com ( http://www.theatermania.com/new-york-city-theater/news/09-2012/corey-cott-is-the-new-king-of-newsies_62883.html)
The talented newcomer shares his behind-the-scenes thoughts about taking over the role of Jack Kelly in the hit musical.
By Nick Orlando • Sep 26, 2012 • New York City
Landing a starring Broadway role as the "King of New York" -- aka Jack Kelly in the hit Broadway musical Newsies at the Nederlander Theatre -- is certainly a dream come true for Corey Cott. The actor, who just graduated from Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama this past May, recently spoke with TheaterMania about his ambitious debut on the Great White Way.
THEATERMANIA. How did this role come about?
COREY COTT: I was auditioning for a bunch of stuff while I was in college. One day, I went to [casting director] Bernard Telsey's office to audition for something else and found out that Newsies was looking for a Jack Kelly standby. I had an audition, they called me back the next week, and I got the job. It was about being in the right place at the right time.
TM: What was the hardest thing about juggling your classes and auditions?
CC: I remember one morning waking up at 4:30am, flying from Pittsburgh to New York for an 11:30am audition, and then flying back to Pittsburgh for a 2:30pm class. Oh, I also had a show that night, Sweeney Todd. My goal was to have an acting job once I graduated. I didn't want to wait tables or have a catering job. This is what I studied to do.
TM: Did you get any other job offers besides Newsies?
CC: Yes, it's incredible. Before I was offered this gig, I was offered a part in the Second National Tour of Wicked and the lead role in the Off-Broadway musical Bareat New World Stages. I was thinking of taking Bare, because it would have given me the opportunity to create a role in New York. And then I got a call saying Ryan Murphy and his team wanted to test me for Glee. But my heart felt right withNewsies.
TM: What do you love about Jack Kelly?
CC: So many things! He is a natural-born leader and he doesn't even know he is a leader. Everyone gravitates towards him. That's his gift. He's witty and street smart, and has the most integrity and the most heart of any character I've ever played. He has so much willpower. As you can tell, I admire him a lot.
TM: You have a childhood buddy in the cast, right?
CC: Yes! Ben Fankhauser (who plays Davey) and I grew up together in Ohio, and we did many musicals together. I remember in 10th grade, we were hanging out and joked that we'll be on Broadway together one day -- not thinking it would ever happen.
Editor's Note: Bart met Corey at the 2012 Broadway Flea Market. What an amazing and impressive young man with such a rich and vibrant future! This article was posted on the Between My Stage Life Facebook page and is reprinted here. Thanks to Nick Orlando for such an amazing interview!