PLAYBILL THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 19-25: Julie Taymor's Next Project; Brits on Broadway; Aladdin Will Rise

By Robert Simonson
25 Jan 2013

A still from the animated film "Aladdin."
Disney

With the new success of Newsies, Disney Theatrical seems to have a new spring in its step — and renewed ambitions.

Disney's stage adaptation of the 1992 animated film Aladdin will play a pre-Broadway engagement at Toronto's Mirvish Theatre this fall prior to a Broadway bow at the New Amsterdam Theatre in 2014.

The stage production, which expands the 90-minute film into a two-act format, has music by Alan Menken, lyrics from the film by the late Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, as well as new book and lyrics by Chad Beguelin



An earlier pilot version of Aladdin premiered at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre in the summer of 2011. Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw, who directed and choreographed that staging, will return for the upcoming Broadway-bound production. No casting of the story's various flying-carpet-riders and animal sidekicks has been announced.

Mary Poppins, the current tenant at the New Amsterdam, will take its umbrella and go on March 3.

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Jordan Roth

Jujamcyn Theaters president Jordan Roth, already the youngest power broker on Broadway, now has more power to broker with.

Roth, 37, is now majority shareholder in the private company. Former co-owner Rocco Landesman — who spent the last four years manning the NEA in Washington — has sold most of his stake in the company to Roth, but will retain a small interest in Jujamcyn. Landesman is now president emeritus. Roth's stake since 2009 has been 50 percent of the company, sharing it with Landesman.

Roth has climbed the ladder of success several rungs at a time. He started with Jujamcyn in 2005 as resident producer. He became vice president in 2006. In 2009, he became president.

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Nina Raine's hit family drama Tribes, about a young deaf man who must face leaving his own dysfunctional clan in order to secure his own future, ended its extended Off-Broadway run Jan. 20 at the Barrow Street Theatre.

Off-Broadway runs end all the time. And Off-Broadway critical hits are far from uncommon. But Tribes is notable for also being a financial hit. It recouped its entire investment. The production, which played 19 previews and 391 regular performances, grossed over $2.5 million by the time it closed. It will resurface in Los Angeles.

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It's good to know that Julie Taymor can still get work.

Taymor, whose last stage credit was Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, will return to the New York stage to direct a new fall 2013 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which will be the inaugural production in Theatre for a New Audience's new permanent home in the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District.

Taymor's longtime collaborator Elliot Goldenthal will compose original music for the show. Performances at TFANA will begin Oct. 19. Opening night is Nov. 2.

Taymor and TFANA has a history. In 1986, the company's artistic director Jeffrey Horowitz invited Taymor to stage The Tempest. It was the first play by Shakespeare she directed. Goldenthal composed the original music. Taymor and Goldenthal later directed and composed productions of The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus and in 1996, Carlo Gozzi's The Green Bird.

This will be Taymor's first Off-Broadway production since The Green Bird. It will also be her first play in decades not to have the name of an animal in the title.