So many noms for Mean Girls, you go Mean Girls! (From left: Erika Henningsen Ashley Park, Taylor Louderman, Kate Rockwell, and Barrett Wilbert Weed in Mean Girls. Photo by Joan Marcus, courtesy Boneau Bryan-Brown.)
Happy Tony nom day, everybody! This morning, we heard the full list of 2018 Tony Award nominees, straight from the very beautiful lips of announcers Leslie Odom, Jr. and Katharine McPhee. We're especially happy that two of our faves—Mean Girls and SpongeBob SquarePants—are leading the pack with 12 nods each. And we're even more excited about the jam-packed race for Best Choreographer (Justin Peck! Casey Nicholaw! Christopher Gattelli, twice!).
Bob Fosse in the studio (courtesy Dance Magazine Archives)
It's important to know about the artists who paved the way for us—especially in the musical theater world, which has been driven from the beginning by charismatic dancers and choreographers whose work continues to inspire Broadway babies. If you're a Great White Way fan, you should get to know these legendary artists, some of whom are still making moves.
Confession: When I found out Aladdin was coming to Broadway, I was completely uninterested. With the exception of the ever-brilliant Newsies, Disney on Broadway isn't really my thing.
Or I guess I should say Disney on Broadway wasn't really my thing—because I saw Aladdin and I loved it. I'm sure you'll love it, too, so do me a favor and go get your tickets. In case you're not convinced, here are five reasons to see the show:
Adam Jacobs as Aladdin (Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)
1. The show stays true to story you know and love from the animated movie classic. Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin opens with "Arabian Nights" before taking you down memory lane with "One Jump Ahead," "Friend Like Me," "Prince Ali" and "A Whole New World." Feel free to sing along from your seat. There are some changes, of course—Jasmine's tiger Rajah is replaced by a group of girlfriends, and Abu (Aladdin's monkey BFF) is replaced by three real-life friends, Babkak, Omar and Kassim—but all the major players are still there, including Aladdin, Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, Iago and even the magic carpet.
2. But there are also some new songs and they're really good (and totally catchy)! My favorites were "Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim," which is a silly boy-bandy number with tons of dancing, and "High Adventure," which again features Aladdin's crazy comrades dancing up a storm.
3. The sets and costumes go beyond anything I've ever seen. The "Cave of Wonders" is quite literally dripping in gold, from the New Amsterdam Theatre's ceiling right down to the orchestra pit, and the costumes are gaudy, over the top and downright fabulous. There are about a billion costume changes throughout the show, so keep an eye out for them.
James Monroe Iglehart as the Genie (Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)
4. The Genie is the best Broadway character on any stage right now. When Robin Williams voiced the original Genie role in the Disney film, he pretty much stole the show—and that's what happens in the Broadway version, too, but on a way grander scale. The Genie, played by James Monroe Iglehart, is so funny and is such a wild dancer and every word out of his mouth is hysterical. After Genie led the ensemble through a huge, lavish, dance-packed rendition of "Friend Like Me," the audience at my matinee show leapt to its feet. This was only the second time I've witnessed a mid-act standing ovation! Pretty magical, don't ya think?
5. Aladdin (played by Adam Jacobs) is hot. So are his friends. If nothing else, go for the abs. (OK, OK, they're all good singers, actors and dancers, too, and they're really funny. But also, abs.)
As the holiday season approaches, what better way to get into the spirit than with Buddy the Elf? But you don’t have to watch the beloved film for the thousandth time to get your dose of Buddy and company—Elf is now a Broadway show! The stage version of the movie, which quickly
became a Christmas classic, will include large-scale musical numbers and lots of dancing. DS chatted with choreographer Casey Nicholaw to get the scoop on Buddy’s moves.
Dance Spirit: How is the musical different from the film?
CN: The show expands on the film’s story through music. You’ll get to learn so much more about the characters because they can sing their feelings. The added elements lift the whole production to a theatrical level.
DS:Most people hear Elf and think of Will Ferrell. What is the show like without him as the main man?
CN: It’s different, of course. But there’s a whole new energy with this show and we needed a main character who was a singer. Plus we’d be dumb if we tried to just copy Will Ferrell because he’s such a genius!
DS: What is the dancing like in the show?
CN: The choreography is pretty basic and not too technical, but with the elves, Santas and everyone on stage together it’s so fun. My favorite scene is when they transform the department store Christmas display into Buddy’s version of the North Pole. It’s a huge dance number.
DS: Why should DS readers go see Elf on Broadway?
CN: It will put you in the best holiday mood! We did a workshop of the show last year and people said all they wanted to do afterward was go Christmas shopping. I hope the show is a big hit that people will want to see every year with their friends and family.
Can’t make it to the Great White Way this season? Go to amazon.com to get your copy of Elf on DVD or Blu-ray!