Full Cast Announced for Disney's ALADDIN in Seattle!
The 5th Avenue Theatre is thrilled to announce casting for the highly anticipated premiere of Disney's Aladdin, a new stage musical. The show will feature Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed as Aladdin and Jasmine, James Monroe Iglehart as the Genie, and Seattle mainstay Seán G. Griffin as the Sultan. Jonathan Freeman takes the stage to embody the role he originally voiced for the film, the Royal Vizier Jafar. He is joined by comedic favorite Don Darryl Rivera as Iago. Aladdin restores a trio of characters originally conceived by the film's creators: Omar, Babkak, and Kassim, played by Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Brian Gonzales, and Brandon O'Neill, respectively. Broadway's Casey Nicholaw will direct. With book by Chad Beguelin and hit songs including "Friend Like Me," "Prince Ali," and the Oscar®-winning "A Whole New World" by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, Aladdin will enchant audiences of all ages.
Aladdin plays July 7-July 31 (press opening July 21) at The 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 5th Avenue, Seattle.) For tickets and information, the public may visit www.5thavenue.org, or call the box office at (206) 625-1900. Tickets may also be purchased at 888-5TH-4TIX (584-4849).
"We are delighted to be partnering with The 5th Avenue Theatre on this thrilling new full-length stage version of Aladdin," said Thomas Schumacher, Producer and President Disney Theatrical Productions. "The 5th has proven itself a loving birthplace for new American musicals and they are the perfect partner for exploring the dynamic original vision of Aladdin's two creators, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, in collaboration with some of some of the most astute audiences in the nation."
This new stage version of Aladdin incorporates all of the beloved songs from the film's Oscar®-winning score plus never-before-heard Menken/Ashman songs restored from early drafts of the film. It marks a return to the authors' original vision: a loving homage to the Hope-Crosby road pictures with a score invoking the jazz sound of stars like Cab Calloway and Fats Waller.
"New musicals have become a large part of the mission of The 5th Avenue Theatre and we are thrilled that Disney has selected our theatre to produce the premiere of this new work," says The 5th Avenue's Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong, adding, "I am especially thrilled to have Casey Nicholaw back at The 5th where his amazing career first got started."
Direct from the sensational Broadway hit The Book of Mormon for which he has received a Tony® Award nomination for Best Director, acclaimed director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw returns to the place where it all began: The 5th Avenue Theatre. He received his first professional gig as choreographer at The 5th Avenue Theatre on The Prince and the Pauper in 2001. On Broadway, Nicholaw has won praise as the choreographer of Spamalot, and as director/choreographer of The Drowsy Chaperone and Elf: The Broadway Musical, garnering three additional Tony® nominations for his work.
Nicholaw's additional New York credits include stagings of Anyone Can Whistle and Follies (direction/choreography), Bye Bye Birdie (choreography) and Can-Can (musical staging) at City Center Encores!; Candide starring Patti LuPone and Kristin Chenoweth at the New York Philharmonic; and South Pacific at Carnegie Hall with Reba McIntyre and Brian Stokes Mitchell (also on PBS Great Performances). He directed and choreographed the world premieres of Minsky's at Center Theater Group and Robin and the 7 Hoods at The Old Globe.
Broadway veteran Jonathan Freeman joins the cast to play one of Disney's most celebrated villains, Jafar, the role he originated in the Disney film Aladdin. In addition to his celebrated role in the film, he has appeared in nearly every Disney Theatrical Productions Broadway show, playing Grimsby in the original cast of The Little Mermaid, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast, and Admiral Boom/Bank Chairman in Mary Poppins. He makes his first appearance at The 5th in Aladdin.
"I am so thrilled that Jonathan will make his 5th Avenue debut in this production," Armstrong says. "He is one of the greatest character actors in Broadway history, and I think audiences will be fascinated to see him play live on-stage the role that he created in the animated film."
Freeman received a Tony® Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his turn as the Headwaiter in She Loves Me. His other Broadway credits include Roger De Bris in The Producers, Bert Barry in 42nd Street, Pitkin W. Bridgework in On the Town, and Mr. Bratt in the 1996 revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Freeman has also been seen Off-Broadway at City Center Encores, Primary Stages, Carnegie Hall, The Public Theatre, and many others. He has performed around the country in such prestigious houses as Seattle Repertory Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Houston Grand Opera, and Williamstown Theater Festival, to name a few.
James Monroe Iglehart will temporarily depart the Broadway cast of Memphis to play the Genie in a jazzy reinvention of the character consistent with Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's original vision. Iglehart has been wildly popular as "Big Love" singer Bobby in the Tony® Award-winning Memphis, a role he originated in the world premiere and pre-Broadway engagement at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Iglehart was featured in the original cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee as Mitch Mahoney and played The Cowardly Lion in The Wiz at City Center Encores! opposite Ashanti as Dorothy and Orlando Jones as The Wiz.
Aladdin introduces Seattle to two rising stars in the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine: Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed. Jacobs will join rehearsals direct from the national tour of Disney's The Lion King where he is currently playing Simba. Jacobs has also toured the country in productions of Mamma Mia! and Les Misérables. On Broadway he has performed as Marius in Les Misérables at the Broadhurst Theater. Courtney Reed recently finished a run as Carla in Broadway's In the Heights, and has also performed in Broadway's Mamma Mia!
Returning to The 5th Avenue Theatre stage is Seán G. Griffin as the lovable Sultan, Jasmine's father. Griffin has performed at The 5th Avenue Theatre in musicals including Mame, West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz, and My Fair Lady. A mainstay of the Seattle theater scene, Griffin has been seen most recently in Of Mice and Men at Seattle Rep and The Lieutenant of Inishmore at ACT Theatre. He performs regularly as Ebenezer Scrooge in ACT's A Christmas Carol, and has also performed locally at Intiman Theatre and Seattle Children's Theatre. He has appeared on Broadway in Dancing at Lughnasa, Ned and Jack, The National Health, Ah! Wilderness, Poor Murderers, and The Queen and the Rebels, in addition to guest star appearances on a variety of television shows including Ally McBeal, E.R., Malcolm in the Middle, Northern Exposure, Murder She Wrote, and many more.
Joining the cast as Jafar's wily sidekick Iago is Seattle's Don Darryl Rivera. Rivera was most recently seen at Teatro Zinzani in Zirkus Fantasmo and has appeared in numerous productions at the internationally acclaimed Seattle Children's Theatre including The Brementown Musicians, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and Busytown. Rivera has also appeared at Centerstage Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, and Strawberry Theatre Workshop.
The new stage version of Aladdin restores from the film's early drafts a trio of characters who act both as narrators and as Aladdin's band of street rat friends: Kassim, Omar, and Babkak. Fresh from his acclaimed performance as Sky Masterson in The 5th's Guys and Dolls, Brandon O'Neill originates the role of Kassim. A regular at The 5th, O'Neill has been seen previously in My Funny Valentine, A Christmas Story, Candide, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Cabaret, Buddy, Wonderful Town, Miss Saigon, Sweeney Todd, Smokey Joe's Cafe, and The Rocky Horror Show. Babkak is portrayed by Brian Gonzales, who played Barfee both on Broadway and in the national tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He has performed around the country in such prestigious houses as Lyric Stage Company, Dallas Theatre Centre, Gulfshore Playhouse, and others. Andrew Keenan-Bolger plays the role of Omar. Keenan-Bolger was seen most recently both on Broadway and in the first national tour of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's Mary Poppins. He performed the role of Leaf Coneybear in the first national tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Jojo in the original Broadway cast of Seussical, Chip in Broadway's Beauty and the Beast, and Young Max in the first national tour of The Grinch.
Rounding out the ensemble are Tia Altinay, Kristin Culp, Nick DeSantis, Ronald Duncan, C.J. Eldred, Daisy Hobbs, David Janett, Kenway Hon Wai K. Kua, Nikki Long, Stanley Martin, Creighton Oliver, Shanna Marie Palmer, Bobby Pestka, Connor Russell, Manuel Santos, Allysa Shorte, Daniel J. Watts, and Matt Wolfe.
Music for Aladdin is by Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Tangled), who has won a total of eight Oscars®, more than any living person. Lyrics are by the late Howard Ashman (Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid) and Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Chess, The Lion King). Aladdin librettist Chad Beguelin also wrote the books for The Rhythm Club, Wicked City and The Wedding Singer, which premiered at The 5th Avenue in 2006. Menken and Beguelin contribute additional lyrics.
Production artists include set designer Anna Louizos (White Christmas, In The Heights), Tony® Award-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes (The Drowsy Chaperone, Mame at The 5th Avenue), Tony® Award-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz (Beauty and the Beast, Aida), dance arranger Glen Kelly (The Producers, Drowsy Chaperone) and musical supervisor Michael Kosarin (Beauty and the Beast, Sister Act).
Steve Fickinger, VP Creative Development and Licensing for Disney Theatrical Productions, said, "Alan Menken brought to us the idea of returning to the highly theatrical vision he and Howard Ashman had originally conceived but that had proved unsuitable for the film. Our goal with this pilot production of Aladdin at The 5th Avenue is to launch this title for inclusion in our innovative professional and regional theater licensing catalog."
The animated film Aladdin was released by Disney in 1992 and was a critical and box office smash, grossing over $504 million worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing film of the year. Adapted from Arabian folktales and the famous "One Thousand and One Nights," Aladdin tells the story of a resourceful young man who dares to woo a princess with the help of an all-powerful Genie. The film introduced the hit songs "Friend Like Me" and "A Whole New World," which won one of the film's two Academy Awards® as Best Original Song. Part of the "Disney Renaissance" that began with 1989's The Little Mermaid, the film Aladdin was praised for its witty script and tuneful, eclectic score.