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Sunday
Jul102011

Stage Door: Disney's "Aladdin" (Plus "Anything Goes")

Aladdin is the latest Disney animated musical to get a stage version [hat tip]. It just opened in Seattle. Testing the waters sands for a Broadway run? We'd love to hear opinions from any Seattle TFE readers who see it. (This is the sort of reason we wish we had a huge operating budget here at TFE. Imagine the sudden coverage of such things.)

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin and Courtney Reed as JasmineAdam previously played "Simba" in The Lion King and Courtney was in "In the Heights"

That's Aladdin (Adam Jacobs) and Jasmine (Courtney Reed) in rehearsal and in previous shows. The royal couple get one original song in addition to the big famous ballad "A Whole New World". After the jump Anything Goes and two Aladdin-centric videos. One, is a history of stage and screen versions of this Arabian Night's Tale and the other is a fleshy festive Fourth of July video with the cast in a Seattle park. I guess sex sells... even when it comes to Disney musicals!

 

 

My favorite moment in the animated film is that very brief tuneful bit wherein Aladdin gets his 'I Want' moment. Instead of it being a big belting showstopper it's like a quietly self-reverent affirmation.

They'd find out, there's so much more to me.

That moment played on loop in my head so much in the early 90s; it's such an earworm. What's your favorite part of Disney's Aladdin?

Meanwhile here in New York City I finally got a chance to take in Sutton Foster's second Tony Winning performance in Cole Porter's classic "Anything Goes". Y'all know I love Sutton Foster -- happiness bottled in human form -- but to make the moment even sweeter I went with my bestie because we had a history with the show. Back in college in the 90s, he played one of the sailors and he told us which number to keep an eye on him during as he was going to really sell the last bit of the number. When the time came he did a head snap so enthusiastically that his sailor cap flew off. Any repetition of the move with accompanying dance gesture at any party thereafter brought a huge laugh. Good times.

Incidentally during intermission he reminded me that Broadway star Will Swenson who I've written about a couple of times here, was in the show with him at BYU. I'd totally forgotten that. But I digress.

Sutton Foster in promotional mode for Anything Goes

If you're travelling to New York City or if you live here, you really should see the show. It's especially recommendable if you like the old classics -- the ones with corny humor (Joel Grey really hams it up) but thrilling song scores. When the Anything Goes revival was first announced there were concerns that Sutton Foster was miscast -- the part of conwoman preacher entertainer "Reno Sweeney" is usually played by someone brassier and older (Patty LuPone recently and Ethel Merman way back when) -- but Sutton is perfection. The weirdest thing about Anything Goes song score structure is that it peaks so insanely in the intermission bookends (first act closer "Anything Goes" and second act opener "Blow Gabriel Blow") that the rest of the show is almost only buildup and come down but those two numbers are so spectacular and Sutton sells them with her always effortless charm, physically gifted comedy and true triple threat skill. A lot of headlining theater stars have remarkable voices but few of them can dance as well as any chorus member. No choreographer has ever had to "work around" Sutton's limitations as a performer; she doesn't appear to have any. 

If you don't love Sutton, you must start now. Here's just two examples of her awesomeness.

Her Tony winning debut in the Julie Andrew roles of Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Until Anything Goes (which is still "setlling" in my head) this was my all time favorite Sutton number. The Drowsy Chaperone is still the best show she's ever done. (She does too many movie-to-stage adaptations: Young Frankenstein, Millie, Little Women, Shrek)

 

Despite its classic status as a stage musical Anything Goes has never had a definitive film version. It was adapted in 1936 with Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman. Another version, also with Bing Crosby in 1956 is apparently nothing like the stage musical apart from one or two songs and the ocean liner setting (and why jettison a Cole Porter score?! Madness). While the humor is old fashioned there's no reason why this couldn't make a great screen musical with a certain winking retro flair. Since it takes place on a cruise ship you don't even have to "open" it up from stage to screen. You've got greatly cinematic views by its very nature. Plus the characters are very familiar screen types: gangsters, scheming women, aristocrats. I'd love to see this onscreen. Or maybe I'm just hoping that eventually Sutton Foster will be more available to the masses.

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Reader Comments (16)

Damn U for introducing me to Adam Jacobs I won't be able to go to sleep tonight!

July 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtfu11

So glad you got to see Anything Goes! I went to the Opening Night, and I grinned ear to ear the entire time. Sutton = the best.

July 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim

I am seriously considering seeing anything goes when I head up to nyc in a few weeks, it sounds like a fun time at the theater.

And that aladdin cast video, that cast *fans self*

July 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTerence

I'm just addicted to Anything Goes, the youtube videos for the title song. There's one in particular, the rehearsals that is 8 or 9 minutes long that got me mesmerised the first time I saw it. So much so that for a few days, I had to watch the video if i was online before going to sleep (yes, that was embarrasing to confess). Pity I don't live in NYC nor have plans to visit.

BTW, which sailor is your friend if you can tell us? They're all incredibly talented and hot.

July 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

That Aladdin cast is GORGEOUS...damn. But the guy with the hairy chest, the ass bruise, the one who's awesome at everything they did--he's mine. :D

July 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

iggy -- i watched that scene a bunch of times too (i've posted it here) and so when i saw the show i thought it would be anti-climactic. I was so wrong. It's even better (and longer and more complex) live.

as for my friend -- i was talking about our college's production. as far as i know there are no videos online for it.

July 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

I'm heading to see this soon. If you need a seattle write up, let me know. :-)

July 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

It's suddenly not inappropriate to have sexual fantasies with Lions.

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Mai

eurocheese -- totes send me your opinions filmexperience (at) gmail (dot) com

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Aladdin looks fun. Hopefully it's better than The Little Mermaid (ugh).

And "Show Off" is one of my favorite Tony performances (I discovered it and "My New Philosophy" with Chenno just last summer). The Drowsy Chaperone, which I unfortunately didn't see, just seems so simple-in-premise and absolutely charming.

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Evan -- omg. "my new philosophy" is the best. I used to listen to that incessantly. so so funny. And if you ever get a chance to see The Drowsy Chaperone do it. It's like a love letter to musical theater freaks... only it's not lazy homage, it's actually hilarious and smart.

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

Philip -- i think he's already been claimed by The Broadway Blog. Just saying.

July 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Adam Jacobs was also featured on the website Hunk du Jour over the weekend.Good interview. Heard the show is great too!

July 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAladdin Fan

Nathaniel R - i think Philip was referring to the gorgeous man with the hairy chest...not the blond. that's who the "The Broadway Blog" features in their post.

and Philip - can you share him with me?! please!?! we can work out a schedule!

does anyone know the hairy-chested man's name? and the name of the song that starts when they start doing their gymnastics? i checked out all the artists listed at the end of the video but i never found it. :-(

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbroadwayfab

There used to be a time when people with unconventional looks could at least find a steady career on the Broadway stage, if not in film and theatre. Obviously, that time has come and gone. Unless a role specifically calls for it or unless the actor in the role is already established, I very rarely seen "ordinary-looking" people on stage anymore.

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H

That having been said, a big *swoon* to everyone featured in the video -- the men, the women, the big guy (who's actually very good on stage -- I saw him as the Lion in Encores production of "The Wiz" two years back). Swoon.

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.
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