Detour: Aladdin and Violet on Broadway

by Angela on October 7, 2014 · 6 comments

Yeah, you saw this coming a million miles away: Max is a show-biz kid.

This happens, of course, spending almost three years on the road with his actor Dad.  Watching The Lion King dress rehearsals countless times has made him an afficionado of the show, and last Halloween he even got to be the sinister Scar, complete with the elaborate painted snarl.

While many boys his age are tussling on the playground, chucking nerf balls and cruising around on bikes, Max is fastening together clothing with twine to construct creative costumes. While many kids are dying to get their hands dirty, Max is meticulously designing makeshift stages and even backstage areas in order to perform a show. The boy looooves his costumes.

He’s also started voraciously watching the Disney collection of movies, and one of his faves this past year was Aladdin. Singing along with the Genie and putting together character costumes was one of his favorites pastimes, and for his birthday in July he asked to see Aladdin, the Broadway show.  If I’m being honest, I was dying to see it too!  So for Max’s 4th birthday gift, we sprung for house orchestra seats through Disney.

So…back to New York in the sweltering summertime, with two munchkins in tow! We stayed with my best friend Anita in our old Brooklyn neighborhood of Prospect Heights, and on the evening of the show, made the expedition into bustling Times Square.

Though Max had been to NYC once when he was one, this was my first time navigating both kids all alone through the hot, oppressive subway system. Despite calling myself a New Yorker for more than a decade, I suddenly felt like a frazzled tourist, searching for easy exits and elevators, and feeling immense gratitude for the kind strangers who offered to help me carry the stroller up and down the harrowing subway steps.

I dropped Eva off at my dear friend Nikaury’s apartment, just one block from the New Amsterdam Theatre.  Up until this day, a very clingy Eva had never been left alone with someone she hadn’t spent considerable time with. Nicky reassured me that the two of them were going to party while Max and I were at the show, and so they did — this is a photo of Eva chowing on pizza, which was texted to me an hour later:

At the theatre, we met up with Amy, Nick and Hero, who brought along an entire entourage — former Simba cub Kolton Stewart and his mom Lori, who were visiting from Canada; and Tyler and Jordan, daughters of Keith Bennett and Deidre Lang, both on tour with us.

Adam Jacobs, who plays the title role Aladdin, was formerly adult Simba on our Lion King tour (although the Hollicks never overlapped with him). Nick, Kolton and Adam all performed together for a while and became good friends. So as an extended Disney family, we were all excited to support a former Simba.

As for Max, I could tell he was beyond thrilled. How? He was drastically quiet, taking it all in — the gorgeous interior of the theatre, the flamboyant merchandise, the old-fashioned seats up close to the stage. It was his first Broadway show, and he was soaking it up.

As soon as we sat down, Max immediately crawled onto my lap. When we heard the bombastic strains of the opening overtures, I felt him gasp.

Photo: Getty Images

Max stayed wide-eyed through the whole 2+ hour show. Frankly, it was hard for anyone to be anything other than transfixed, with the dizzying musical numbers, color-filled costumes, frenetic dancing and amazing vocal talent. Here, Max’s favorite character the Genie was larger than life and fantastic.

Photo: Getty Images

Adam was pretty much perfection.

Photo: Getty Images

Afterwards, we headed backstage where we got to meet Adam. It had been a while since he’d seen his old Lion King tour comrades, and he also recently became a new dad. Lots to catch up on! Here, he shows Amy, Max and Nick photos of his twin boys.

We also got to meet the Tony-winning Genie, James Monroe Iglehart. Max told him, “My dad plays Scar!” to which he responded, “That’s my favorite Lion King character.” He turned to the former Simba apologetically. “Sorry, Adam!”

We got a quick tour of the backstage. Adam showed us the royal throne that he sits on as he waits in the wings throughout pretty much the entire “Prince Ali” number; he doesn’t make his grand entrance until after the whole procession of ensemble performers enter and exit the stage multiple times. “I just sit here laughing at them as they are furiously quick-changing,” he told us. “It’s amazing to see just how many elaborate costumes they have to throw on for one song!”

(To see what Adam is talking about, below is the actual extravagant “Prince Ali” song performed. If you can’t see the video player, click here.)

The night ended with Adam giving Max an unbelievable treat. He hoisted Max up in his arms and asked him, “Ready for your exit?”  Then he threw open the stage door to a throng of delighted fans waiting behind a barricade. As Adam bounded out, they all cheered and awwww’d at the sight of the star holding a little boy. Perhaps they thought Max was his son! Max certainly believed they were cheering him, as well. Thanks, Adam, for cementing a diva attitude in my boy! 😉

(Don Darryl Rivera, who played Iago in the show, stands to the left looking on.)

What a perfectly wonderful night soaking in Broadway — totally worth the Category 4 meltdown that both kids had in the cab ride back to Brooklyn!

But that’s surely not the end of our Broadway detour!

The next day, thanks to Anita watching both kiddos, I went on a mama-adventure of my own to see my dear friend Sutton in her Broadway show, Violet.

Sutton went to Carnegie Mellon with Mike, and years ago when we still lived in New York, she and I would meet periodically for catch-up sessions over afternoon tea in the West Village.

She was nominated for a Tony for this role, in which she plays a disfigured woman on a journey to an evangelist who she believes will make her scar disappear. It’s definitely a departure from some of the more glam roles she’s had in the past. Sutton is my hero — she wears no makeup for the role and has never looked more beautiful to me.

Photo by Joan Marcus

After the show, I stopped backstage to say hello and get a smooch from her new puppy Mabel.

I got to top off our theatre getaway by catching up with another dear friend from college who I am immensely proud of: Alec Duffy. He founded his own theatre company Hoi Polloi years ago, and recently created his own Brooklyn-based performance space, JACK. He also lives in Prospect Heights with his brilliant wife, set designer Mimi Lien. He stopped by Anita’s, and it was the first time he met my kids. Here, we see he’s made quite an impression on Eva.

The flurry of shows these couple of days made me miss the arts and culture of New York, so very much. It made me miss my friends even more. Perhaps one day we’ll be back, for good?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Katherine S October 8, 2014 at 9:20 am

My daughters have been asking to see Aladdin, and now I’m just going to have to take them 🙂


steve October 8, 2014 at 11:01 am

would you rather see aladdin or matilda? trying to figure out what to do for our next family outing to the city. seems like aladdin is the hot ticket these days. sounds like it’s worth it. cool photos!


ANGELIQUE October 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm



Jenn October 8, 2014 at 1:17 pm

I love this blog! It’s too cute for words! Your kids are adorable! Glad you’re enjoying Boston!


Michael October 8, 2014 at 2:23 pm

What a remarkable blog post! Thanks for sharing. I, for one, live a bit through you and your beautiful family!


Christina Tracey December 15, 2014 at 11:50 am

Hi Angela,
Wow!!! I am so happy you reached out to me! I am just smiling from ear to ear reading your most recent blog post! I can wait to read the rest!
I am sure we have many mutual friends- probably Kendra Moore (a dear friend) Shamika- Geoff- Brenda O’Brien (one of my besties) Derrick Williams-Marvette Williams…just to name a few! I was I introduced to Beth Bornstien through e-mail (never actually meet in person) she has helped me so much finding caregivers across the country! I love my extended Lion King family!!
Anyway yes let’s please talk and keep in touch!
Warmly, Christina- ps… Yes we are totally crazy!


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