Memphis Star James Monroe Iglehart Is Genie in Disney's Aladdin; Adam Jacobs Is Title Hero
By Kenneth Jones
Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed will play Aladdin and Jasmine, respectively, with James Monroe Iglehart as the Genie, in the stage premiere of the Disney musical Aladdin, based on the animated feature.
The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle announced full casting for the show on June 1. The production, starring the previously announced Jonathan Freeman as villainous Jafar (reprising his pungent vocal role from the 1992 motion picture), will play July 7-31 under the direction of Casey Nicholaw, who also choreographs.
Aladdin has music by Alan Menken; lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice & Chad Beguelin; and book by Chad Beguelin. 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, according to 5th Avenue.
The cast also includes Seattle actor Seán G. Griffin as the Sultan; Don Darryl Rivera as Iago; and, playing Omar, Babkak, and Kassim — a trio of characters originally conceived by the film's creators but not used — Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Brian Gonzales, and Brandon O'Neill, respectively.
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.
The famous score includes "Friend Like Me," "Prince Ali" and the Oscar-winning "A Whole New World" by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.
Opening night is July 21. 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," according to 5th Avenue notes.
"We are delighted to be partnering with The 5th Avenue Theatre on this thrilling new full-length stage version of Aladdin," Thomas Schumacher, producer and president Disney Theatrical Productions, said in a statement. "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."
Nicholaw is currently a 2011 Tony Award nominee for Direction and Choreography for The Book of Mormon. He received his first professional job as choreographer at The 5th Avenue Theatre on The Prince and the Pauper in 2001.
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 plays "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.
Jacobs will join rehearsals direct from the national tour of Disney's The Lion King, where played 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. Reed recently finished a run as Carla in Broadway's In the Heights, and has also performed in Broadway's Mamma Mia!
The creative team also includes 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).
For tickets and information, visit www.5thavenue.org, or call the box office at (206) 625-1900. Tickets may also be purchased at 888-5TH-4TIX (584-4849).
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