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Disney: Hot Off the Press!

Cast revealed for Disney’s Broadway-bound musical ‘Aladdin’ including the Genie
Written and compiled by Associated Press from Washington Post
September 17, 2013

When he was a kid, James Monroe Iglehart wished to be a Disney character. When he was 17, he wanted to be the Genie in “Aladdin.” Now at 39, he’s getting all his wishes.

Disney Theatrical Productions on Monday announced the full Broadway-bound cast of the new musical, with Iglehart in the role made famous by Robin Williams, who lent his manic voice to the big blue Genie in the 1992 animated version of “Aladdin.”

“It took three wishes from the time I was 4 to 39,” said Iglehart. “I can’t wait. I am looking forward to this challenge but truthfully I want to have as much fun as I can and ride this bad boy out as far as I can.”


James Monroe Iglehart, who will play the Genie in “Aladdin,” on Broadway

Iglehart previously played singer Bobby in the Tony Award-winning “Memphis,” a role he originated, and made his Broadway debut as a replacement in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” He also played opposite Ashanti in a production of “The Wiz” in 2009.

Iglehart, who counts Robin Williams among his favorite comedians, will be taking a different approach onstage than his hero. “It’s a little bit of Cab Calloway. It’s a little Fats Waller. And it’s a lot of me,” he said.

“I’ve loved this role since I was 17 and I first saw the cartoon. I just wanted to come at it a little bit different. It would be stupid to try and recreate Robin Williams,” he said. “I know to recreate someone’s work is like performing suicide.”

He’ll be joined by Adam Jacobs in the title role, adding to his Broadway credits that includes Marius in “Les Miserables” and Simba in “The Lion King.” Jasmine will be portrayed by Courtney Reed, a veteran of “In the Heights” and “Mamma Mia!”

As Jafar, actor Jonathan Freeman will be a strong link to 1992 animated film. Freeman, who has been in “Mary Poppins” and “The Little Mermaid,” was the voice of the evil Jafar in the film, too.

“Aladdin,” with songs by Alan Menken, will be directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw, whose previous hits include “The Book of Mormon” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Bob Crowley, who has a Tony for “Mary Poppins,” will design the sets, and Chad Beguelin has written the story and some lyrics.

The show will feature a 34-member cast, new songs by Menken and magic tricks. It will first be staged at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre this November until Jan. 5, before it rides a magic carpet to Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre and opens next year.

Iglehart recently checked the weather forecast next month in Canada and it said he should expect temperatures of minus-5. “I looked at my wife and said, ‘I’ve never seen minus-anything!’ So I’m a little nervous about that but, I’ve been wanting to go to Canada for many, many years. So I’m looking forward to it.”

The “Aladdin” story centers on a commoner who falls for the free-spirited Princess Jasmine and has his life change with one rub of a magic lamp. Iglehart said the stage version will be distinct from the movie version, in the same way “The Lion King” onstage is vastly different from the film.

“It’s going to be its own thing,” he said. “I think people are going to totally love it.”



Disney Animator, Glen Keane Leaves the Studio
Written and compiled by The Deadline Team from Deadline Hollywood
September 16, 2013

Veteran animator Glen Keane resigned Friday from Walt Disney Animation Studios. With nearly four decades of Disney experience, Keane worked on title characters for Disney movies including The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Aladdin and Tarzan and more recently, Rapunzel, in Tangled. Earlier in his career at Disney, he worked on The Rescuers and Pete’s Dragon. Keane emailed the notice of his resignation to studio coworkers. Here is the complete text:


Glen Keane: Disney Animator from 1977 - 2012

Dear Colleagues and Friends of the Walt Disney Animation Studio, After long and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to leave Disney Animation.

I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate art form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist it’s siren call to step out and discover them.

Disney has been my artistic home since September 9,1974. I owe so much to those great animators who mentored me—Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston—as well as to the many other wonderful people at Disney whom I have been fortunate to work with in the past nearly 38 years.

Over these four decades I have seen so many changes, but the one thing that remains the same is that we all do this because we love it.

I am humbled and deeply honored to have worked side by side so many artists, producers and directors during my career here at Disney, and I am tremendously proud of the films which together we have created. I will deeply miss working with you.

With my most sincere and heartfelt good wishes for your and Disney’s continued artistic growth and success,

Glen

Disney confirmed Keane’s exit with this statement: “After an incredible 38-year career as an animator, storyteller, and filmmaking pioneer with Walt Disney Animation Studios, Glen Keane has decided that the time has come to take the next step in his personal exploration of the art of animation. As much as we are saddened by his departure, we respect his desires and wish him the very best with all his future endeavors.”


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