Tag Archives: Broadway

Aladdin on Broadway: A Refreshing Spin on the Disney Classic

By Rohan:

Ever since it was announced that everyone’s favorite street rat from Agrabah was making his way to the Big Apple, I was both excited at the prospect and nervous that it wouldn’t live up to the film’s magic.  Aladdin ​remains one of Disney’s most beloved masterpieces, featuring the gut-wrenching comedy of the late Robin Williams and the beautiful score from the fabulous Alan Menken.  It was an integral part of my childhood movie collection, with the genie standing out as one of the funniest and most charming characters to ever grace the screen.  Last weekend, I finally caught the Broadway rendition of the classic story. Was it absolutely faithful to the movie?  No.  Did it delight me from start to finish?  Absolutely.

If you go into Aladdin on Broadway expecting a live-action version of the movie, then I’m afraid you have been misguided.  This isn’t a shot-for-shot adaptation, but rather a spin on the classic Disney story.  It feels refreshing with modern humor, new characters, and a jazzy soundtrack that is sure to keep the toes tapping and the hands clapping.

What has changed?  For one thing, the city of Agrabah is just as​ magical as ever.  I have seen my share of Broadway performances, and I can say that Aladdin blew me away in the props and costuming department.  The fictional Arabian city is colorful, lively, and has more dimensions than its cinematic counterpart.

Although the animated film is timeless, the writing has been modified to attract a new audience, and its jokes keep the comedy fresh despite the source material being almost twenty years old. The Genie, masterfully portrayed by the charismatic James Monroe Iglehart, whips up jokes about viral Internet videos and recent Disney classics.  The play enjoys poking fun at itself and even breaks the fourth wall to get the audience engaged, a bold move, but it succeeds on all fronts.

By far the best element of Aladdin comes from its wicked cast.  The play has eliminated some of the more minor characters and introduced new ones that I now miss seeing in the movie.  Aladdin’s friends include a trio of street rats named Babkak, Omar, and Kassim, who at various points throughout the production, absolutely steal the show with their contrasting personalities.

Overall, Aladdin is a treat on all fronts, and delivers a thoroughly entertaining evening for people of all ages.  We highly recommend allowing this brilliant cast to take you to a whole new world without even leaving the New Amsterdam Theatre.

Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark Review

Spiderman on Broadway
www.broadway.com

By Rohan:

Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is a high-octane, thrilling adventure through New York City’s darkest hour. While definitely not perfect, Spidey has a lot of things going for it. It’s brilliantly creative use of the stage and fantastic directing by Julie Taymor make it a worthwhile experience despite some major plot holes and a forgettable soundtrack. Is this the web-slinging adventure we paid for or are our Spidey senses malfunctioning? Let’s find out!

As stated earlier,Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is a visual treat. Spidey glides from one side of the stage to the other and the aerial fight scenes look absolutely amazing. The critics weren’t kidding when they said that it takes your breath away. The last battle involving a fight between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin took place on the Chrysler Building, and Taymor’s ability to stage the fight certainly deserves applause.

However, there are many aspects of Spidey’s Broadway debut that take away from it being all it could be; the most noticeable of which is Taymor’s addition of unnecessary characters. Arachne, Emily Oswald, and the entire Sinister Six could have been taken out of the script completely since they were all thin, irrelevant, and in some cases, annoying.

The biggest let-down for me was the soundtrack. I have been thoroughly surprised with Broadway music recently from How to Succeed in Business’ 50’s jazz to the nostalgic roar of The Lion King. I can agree that writing music for a superhero is challenging but the score, written by Bono and the Edge, felt like a giant U2 commercial. Take a listen to “Bouncing Off The Walls” and you can see how heavily U2 focused on incorporating its own distinctive style rather than contributing to the story of the musical. Green Goblin’s ringtone was “Beautiful Day”, the dance music at the nightclub was “Vertigo”, and there were tons of homages to the band’s members as well.

Another pet peeve I had with the play was Peter Parker himself. He is just unlikeable. One of the most unique aspects of the Spider-Man franchise is how down to earth Peter Parker is. He’s not a hotshot billionaire or a dashingly handsome mutant. He’s an admirable college kid with a true passion for helping those in need. The Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark dressed like a total hipster, avoided every charming aspect of Maguire’s Parker, and overeacted to the point where you want to root for the enemy. However, as for the other characters, the casting is spot on. Patrick Page steals the show as The Green Goblin while incorporating aspects of other famous super-villains like Lex Luthor and the Joker.

If you are forced to pay full price to see Spidey, I would recommend checking something else out. However, if you can snag cheap tickets, I highly recommend going just to be delighted by the musical’s visuals. The fight scenes are beautifully choreographed and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark clearly believes in bringing the play directly to the audience, meaning Spidey and the Goblin will be going at it just inches away from you!

To find out more, visit Spidey’s official site at

http://spidermanonbroadway.marvel.com/home

Ellen’s Stardust Diner – A Rockin’ Times Square Joint

Ellen’s Stardust Diner
Source: virtual tourist.com

By Rohan:

Let’s face it, no matter how much you love its neon signs and Broadway plays, Times Square will always be the epitome of tourism. It’s hard to get around without bumping into a family taking a picture on the famous steps or a kid skipping happily with a Toys R’ Us bag. If you want to join some New Yorkers for classic American fare and some good tunes, you have to hit up Ellen’s Stardust Diner.

The diner is a bit off the beaten path but is still a stone’s throw away from Times Square. It sports a classic silver diner appearance with records, old photographs, and electric guitars plastered all over the walls.

So what’s different about Ellen’s that makes it stand out from the run-of-the-mill silver diners you can find practically everywhere? Four words: dinner and a show. Ellen’s puts a whole new spin on entertaining its patrons by allowing its waiters to burst into song at random points during your meal. Sometimes their skits are planned, other times, it’s pure improv. Either way, it’s a great way to enjoy a great Sandwich or dig into an enormous ice cream sundae.

Overall, Ellen’s Stardust Diner excels in ambiance, making you feel as if you’ve been warped back to the 1950’s. The food is standard American cuisine with nothing too special to make it stand out. The star of the show here is well… the show itself. All the waiters are aspiring Broadway actors and have plenty of singing experience to make you screaming for an encore.

To check out the diner, visit

http://www.ellensstardustdiner.com/