The Shmooze

'Aladdin' With a Jewish Twist

By Masha Leon

  • Print
  • Share Share

Hundreds of parents with children in tow — some in strollers — were rushing along 42nd Street to make the March 9 matinee curtain at the New Amsterdam Theatre for the preview/benefit of Disney’s musical comedy “Aladdin.”

The marquee featured the logo Hebrew Charter School Center and the repeating zipper message — which could be seen from Times Square, which proclaimed: “Todah Rabah! Thank You For Supporting 1000 Children In Our Classrooms Around The Country.”

“We’ve filled 1,500 seats!” beaming event co-chair Sara Berman told me as I came down the aisle.

Photo by Karen Leon.

A quick hello to event chairman Michael Steinhardt and educator Charlotte Frank whose credentials include Sr. V.P., McGraw-Hill Education Research and Development. The buzz was intense as parents settled kids in their seats and ushers were bringing in booster seats. All went silent as the curtain rose on an Arabian Nights spectacle that had adults laughing at double entendres and kids delighted by the physicality of the production. Throughout three hours — not a baby cried!

A storyline with a moral, “Aladdin” has gorgeous girls, sword swallowers, stunning sets, including a gasp-eliciting flying carpet. Dazzled by the costumes, I wondered who had the sequins concession?

But it is Adam Jacobs as the handsome hottie Aladdin who energizes the production. Basically the story line is of a boy wanting his family to be proud of him, which had the parents in the audience kvelling as he sang “Proud of Your Boy.”

Princess Jasmine (Courtney Reed) is a princess who refuses to be kept down and whose feminist manifesto is very much beyond the harem walls. Full bodied acrobatic James Monroe Iglehart portrays the Genie with such unstoppable energy his agility leaves you breathless.

Opulent, with pyrotechnics and stagecraft that elicited 1000-voiced “oohs” and “ ahhs” the production includes a cha-cha montage, a Follies Bergere spectacle (Las Vegas version), a Marx Bros. spoof, and a nod to Busby Berkeley’s “42nd Street.”

With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and additional lyrics by Chad Beuelin the production includes an excerpt by Stephen Schwartz and a “Mambo” by Leonard Bernstein. This upbeat musical concludes with a dazzling Disneyesque hora performed by the full cast.

An HCSC brochure at each seat explained the schools’ imperative “…to weave the study of Hebrew language and history and culture of Israel and its immigrant communities into a robust educational program…. [to] embody true diversity. Our students emerge as global citizens fully bilingual and deeply knowledgeable about the United States, Israel and the world.”

Opened in Brooklyn in 2009, HCSC serves nearly 500 students from all economic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds with schools in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Harlem and California on the horizon.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: disney, broadway, aladdin, adam jacobs, jewish

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "Selma. Nearly 50 years ago it was violent Selma, impossibly racist Selma, site of Bloody Sunday, when peaceful civil rights marchers made their first attempt to cross the Pettus Street Bridge on the way to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama." http://jd.fo/r50mf With the 50th anniversary approaching next spring, a new coalition is bringing together blacks, Jews and others for progressive change.
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.