Theater Adventures – Aladdin, In Transit, and Newsies

Hey all, Adina back again with more adventures in Theatre! This month brought me to In Transit and Aladdin as well as seeing Newsies four times in the movie theaters, plus a theatre-adjacent concert: Aaron Tveit.

Aladdin had never been high on my list of shows to see, but it sounded fun. Then when the announcement came that James Monroe Iglehart was leaving his Tony-award-winning role as Genie, a group of friends and I decided it was finally time. I hit up the box office in person a few weeks earlier (the best way that avoids the Ticketmaster fees) and picked up tickets. Well, wouldn’t you know, when we arrived, not only was it James’s last week, it was Adam Jacobs (who originated the role of Aladdin on Broadway) last night! We have excellent timing. What a fun show. It follows the same story as the Disney movie, but with some added enhancements, as stage shows do. For example, Aladdin has 3 friends (Babkak, Omar, Kassim) who are a lot of fun and add to the character of Aladdin as well as the show overall. Jasmine’s tiger is absent, but not really missed. The flying carpet is still there and much more of a spectacle onstage as it was in the cartoon. The best number in the show was “Friend Like Me.” It’s usually a fun number (I have the track from the cast recording) but live plus the fact that it was Adam’s last night made it spectacular. The applause after lasted so long, James pretended to check his watch like “Hey, we still have the rest of the show to do!” Adam and James were quite the duo, and it was something special to watch their last performance together.

James Monroe Iglehart & Adam Jacobs, "Friend Like Me."
James Monroe Iglehart & Adam Jacobs, “Friend Like Me.”

James is currently playing the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in a little musical no one’s heard of: Hamilton. (Haha.) Ally and I are going to see it (finally) in August and we can’t wait to see James do “What’d I Miss”! We told him that and he was excited we were coming to see it.

James M. Iglehart at the stage door
James M. Iglehart at the stage door
Adam Jacobs at the stage door

Earlier that day, I tried the TodayTix app’s digital lottery for In Transit, the a capella musical playing at Circle in the Square. I won, and immediately claimed my ticket. I had been wanting to see this show since December, but my schedule fills up so fast that this was the first chance I had to go. Anyway, I happily arrived at Circle in the Square (next door to the Gershwin, home of Wicked) for the first time in that theater. In Transit was a short show, just about 100 minutes, but what a 100 minutes it was! A capella got some publicity in the last few years with Pitch Perfect, but this show really did not get the accolades it deserved. It starred Margot Seibert, James Snyder (of If/Then fame), Telly Leung (who’s been in many musicals, but I first saw him as the understudy for Angel in the 2009 tour of Rent), and Justin Guarini (of American Idol fame).

In Transit told the story of New Yorkers, specifically all commuting on the subway. There was a spectacular dress made of metro cards, sounds of the subway, and memorable songs such as “Do What I Do” and “Getting There.” Their tagline (and one of the songs) was #DeepBeneaththeCity, which worked on multiple levels: the subway and the fact that the stage for Circle in the Square was two floors below ground level. Unfortunately, In Transit wasn’t getting enough sales (or attention) and closed in April. The cast recording is out, though, so you can check it out!

After the show, I went next door to stagedoor for Wicked, because I’d been trying to watch for Kara Lindsay (OBC Katherine in Newsies and currently Glinda in Wicked] so she could sign my Newsies book. I asked the first person to come out of the Gershwin if Kara had been in that day, and she wasn’t, so I dashed back to Circle and got to meet most of the cast outside on this windy, cold day. I got to tell Margot that I’d seen her in Ever After at Paper Mill Playhouse a few years ago, and she looked around for James, who had been Prince Henry to her Danielle. I also got to mention to Telly that I’d seen him in Rent, and he responded that was a long time ago. He’s come so far!

With the cast of In Transit
With the cast of In Transit

Also in February was the big-screen release of the filmed stage version of Newsies. I bought a ticket to the first showing months ahead of time. I debated cosplaying, but decided to go full out fangirl. Newsies t-shirt, necklaces, Santa Fe bracelet and Newsies charm bracelet, and a Newsies playbill flower headband. My enthusiasm must have showed, because I got a shout-out on Twitter from Jeremy Jordan! I was in my glory. They got the four OBC principals (Jeremy as Jack; Kara as Katherine; Andrew Keenan-Bolger as Crutchie; Ben Fankhauser as Davey) back in their original roles plus other originals such as Tommy Bracco as Spot and Andy Richardson (OBC plus tour replacement). The proshot is really the way to go. My only complaints: at times, the camera was a little too close, notably in the action scenes, and it would have been better if it was a wide shot. The other thing was just personal – since they expanded the group scenes, I would have loved to see all the OBC boys in the ensemble in some way. Overall, I loved it and gladly threw my money at Disney all three times (plus the encore) it aired.

He wanted a shirt like that, he got one. I mailed him one!
He wanted a shirt like that, he got one. I mailed him one!

The last night Newsies was playing in the movies was the night I was flying to Nashville. I was due to land about half an hour before the movie started. The airport was about 20 minutes from the hotel, and the movie theater was about 5 minutes from the hotel. However, the shuttle only ran at the top of the hour — and that’s when they leave the hotel to come to the airport. So I figured by the time I got everything and got to the movies, it would be about an hour after it started. Which means that I’d miss everything up to the beginning of “Seize the Day,” which wouldn’t have been so bad because it is my favorite number in the show; however, it is most of the first act. Timing was on my side, though, and my flight landed at 10 minutes to 6 instead of 6:30, and I called for the 6pm shuttle before I was even off the plane. I got to the hotel, checked in, dropped off my stuff at my room, and got a Lyft to the movies, and settled in my seat just as the pre-show clips were ending. Perfect timing.

First order of business...
First order of business…

First weekend in March was a Saturday night in Philly for Aaron Tveit concert! He is most recently known for playing Danny Zuko in Fox’s Grease Live. He was also on Broadway in the original cast of Next to Normal, as a Fiyero in Wicked, and in Catch Me if You Can musical based on the movie of the same name. He was Roger in the Hollywood Bowl production of Rent. Plus many others. Ally and I traveled down to Philly, with a few hours stop in Cherry Hill to see the encore production of Newsies (4 for 4!) and then it was time for Tveit.

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He was amazing and it was a really fun concert. He was having a lot of fun up on stage, which made us have fun in the audience as well. He sang such favorites such as “One Song Glory,” “Your Eyes” (both from Rent), and some pop songs such as Queen’s “Somebody to Love” and Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together.”

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We tried to hang around in the alley behind the theater to meet him after, but alas, he zoomed out as soon as he left the stage and we were not destined to meet him that night. It was just as well, because it was really cold.

That’s it for February! Join me in March for Cagney, Spamilton, and Anastasia.

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