I was on the 2008 Newbery Committee that honored Christopher Paul Curtis’s Elijah of Buxton so I was both eager and nervous to read its companion, The Madman of Piney Woods. Eager because I so admired the first book, and nervous because you just never know. Happily, I was delighted with the book and those at the Horn Book Magazine where I reviewed it agreed with me, starring it. I concluded my review (which you can read here) thus: “Woven throughout this profoundly moving yet also at times very funny novel are themes of family, friendship, community, compassion, and, fittingly, the power of words.”
While Disney is not my preferred choice for a Broadway show, the enthusiastic New York Times review and what I saw on the Tonys, peaked my interest in seeing the Broadway production of Aladdin, the Musical. And so yesterday, as a reward for completing a big writing project before school starts, I went to see it and was not disappointed; it was loads of fun. And now rereading the Times review, I’m not surprised to see that the director was also responsible for The Book of Mormon musical. Both have an old-fashioned feel and are loving appreciations of the musical theater genre with production numbers that are reminders of old favorites, while being entertaining all by themselves.
And then there is James Monroe Iglehart who rightly won a Tony for his terrific performance as Genie. At first his performance reminded me somewhat painfully of Robin William’s creation of the character in the movie, but eventually Inglehart’s terrific singing and dancing made the role all his own. To honor both men here are their performances of the showstopper, “Friend Like Me” and then one more recent video of Inglehart and the Broadway cast leading a tribute to Williams.