Disney’s Aladdin On Broadway-A Magical Wish Come True
Like Disney, I can’t remember a time in my life when musicals were not a part of my life. I grew up listening to the soundtracks of all of the greats but the chance to actually see a Broadway musical ON Broadway had always just been a dream. Last week, the dream became a reality as not only did I see a Broadway show on Broadway-the New Amsterdam Theater to be exact, the show I attended just happened to be Disney’s Aladdin-the best of all possible worlds. So what’s it like to venture out into the world of the New York theater district for your very first time? Here are a few things to know before you go:
Early Planning Helps– I’ll admit it, I am not a planner by any stretch of the imagination and this could have been a disaster in the making as far as attending a Broadway show goes. Popular ones like Disney’s Aladdin are sold out months in advance-and if it happens to be Valentine’s Day chances of finding tickets are usually slim to none. When I found out at the last minute that I had the chance to travel to New York for Toy Fair NY I knew I couldn’t let a chance to see a show pass me by. Thanks to Vivid Seats, I was able to make this dream come true-even though it was the day before I was scheduled to leave. Vivid not only found me the perfect seats, but made arrangements to have my tickets delivered to me overnight-now that’s customer service at it’s very best.
Get to The Theater Early– Unlike shows I had been to over the years in San Francisco or Los Angeles, if a Broadway shows states a 6:30 starting time, they mean the doors are closing promptly at 6:30 and no one is admitted during the opening number. Although the New York Hilton Midtown where I was staying was less than a mile from Times Square and the New Amsterdam Theater, as it turned out, New York City was in the midst of the coldest weather on record that night for the past 40 years, and the coldest Valentine’s Day for the past 100 years so walking was out of the question. Thanks to Didi who runs the DIStherapy website and a native New Yorker, she knew that going less than a mile was not as easy as it sounded, especially in the midst of freezing temperatures and a holiday night on top of it so she made sure we left with what we thought would be plenty of time to spare. Even with leaving the hotel at 5:45 still left us running to our seats just as the doors were closing-a little too close for comfort. The lesson here is make sure to leave with time to spare and allow extra time to be able to take in the majesty and history that this theater has to offer-it is truly a show all on it’s own. From the carvings on the walls and the ceilings to taking the moment to process that this was the actual theater where the from 1913 to 1927, was the home of the Ziegfeld Follies, and then later in the 90’s went through extensive renovations to become the home for Disney on Broadway, the rich history tells a story all of its own.
This Is a “Whole New World” of Aladdin- Like so many Disney fans, there isn’t a word or a song lyric that I don’t know from Aladdin but like everything Disney does, this is a newly reimagined version created just for the Broadway stage. Based on the smash-hit 1992 animated film, Aladdin tells the story of a street urchin who uses the help of a magic Genie to win the heart of Princess Jasmine. This version of the beloved classic not only brings in new characters but brand new music by the one and only Alan Menken who wrote the original score along with lyricist Tim Rice and the late Howard Ashman. I was lucky enough to interview Menken last year and I remember him sharing that it is the songs that tell the story and this was evident with his new additions to the updated tale.
The show stopping number because of its raw emotion, “Proud Of Your Boy”, sung from the heart by Adam Jacobs, who brings the role of Aladdin to life, will make every parent stop, think and reflect. Going into the show, I found it difficult to imagine how anyone but Robin Williams could be the Genie but James Monroe Iglehart takes the role and makes it all his own, while still keeping all of the charm and the spontaneity that we’ve all come to love. With dance numbers including the rollicking tap number that makes you want to get up and dance, it’s the perfect way to transport yourself for 2 hours to the world of Agrabah whether you’re a kid, or just a kid at heart. Listening to the laughter of the children in the audience, it just doesn’t get much better than that, especially knowing that this is a memory they will keep in their heart forever.
The Practical Side– Although pictures are allowed and encouraged before and after the performance, when they say “No pictures or photography during the performance” they mean just that, as the couple sitting in front of us quickly discovered when they had their cell phone “kept for safe keeping” when they tried to take a picture of the opening of the second act. Here’s something I learned long ago-when you’re not focused of capturing that perfect picture, it allows you to just sit back and totally immerse yourself in the entire experience. Another difference from seeing a show in San Francisco was that every bag is searched before entering the theater but the good news is that you are allowed to bring in water and snacks. Beverages for both kids and adults available along with a wide assortment of goodies are readily available both before the show as well as during intermission however the lines were extremely long so make sure you plan accordingly. There’s also a wide assortment of souvenirs from programs and soundtracks to tee shirts, jackets and keepsakes-there’s something for everyone no matter what your price range may be. Dress in layers, especially if you’re sitting upstairs as while not as cold as it was outside, it was still chilly in the theater. I left my extra jacket on the entire show. What a treat to discover that unlike San Francisco theaters, there was an elevator that took us to the upper levels and there were also concession stands along with restrooms upstairs as well, thus negating trying to get to the first floor and back again during the short 15 minute intermission. Because of the age of the theater, the seats can be a tight fit. If you have mobility issues or just need some extra leg space, make sure you ask for an aisle seat when you purchase your tickets in order to help you fully enjoy the show without being uncomfortable. But most importantly, make sure you take the time to rub the Genie’s magic lamp which is right at the entrance of the theater-you never know when your wish will come true.
Should You Bring The Kids– This is the perfect show to bring the entire family to and introduce them to the world of musical theater. Disney’s Aladdin starts at 6:30 allowing for younger children to be a part of the magic that comes from the special evening out on the town. I know my own grandchildren who range in age from 5-10 would have loved every minute of it, especially being the Disney family that we are. After the show, be sure to take the kids around to the Stage Door where many times they have the opportunity to meet the performers, who go out of their way to take the time to say “Hello”, pose for pictures, and sign autographs. Talk about a once in a lifetime memory.
One lamp, three wishes, infinite possibilities- the next time you’re in New York, don’t miss Disney’s Aladdin –the Broadway musical for the entire family that let’s you discover a “Whole New World” and is pure Genie-us- playing now at the New Amsterdam Theater on 7th and 42nd streets in the heart of Broadway. Whether you’re looking for tickets to Disney’s Aladdin, or any of the other Broadway shows, of wanting to take in a sporting event or a favorite concert, our friends at Vivid Seats have what you’re looking for. From Aladdin to Adele to the Golden State Warriors, Vivid has the seats you’re looking for-even for a spur of the moment planner like me.
Disclosure: I am a Vivid Seats Fan Ambassador and from time to time Vivid Seats provides me with tickets to shows and events in order to help facilitate in my reviews, however all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.