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D23 2019: Disney on Broadway is Coming to D23!

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Disney on Broadway is thrilled to return to D23 Expo, in Anaheim, California, to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Join Broadway’s brightest stars as they present an exclusive concert, Disney on Broadway: A 25th Anniversary Celebration, in Hall D23 on Saturday, August 24, at 3:30 p.m.
Hosted by Tony Award-nominee Gavin Lee (Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast), the 75-minute concert will feature Heidi Blickenstaff (Freaky Friday, The Little Mermaid), Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, On The Record), Kissy Simmons (The Lion King), Josh Strickland (Tarzan) and Alton Fitzgerald White (The Lion King). A six-piece band, led by Jim Abbott, will accompany performers as they lead the audience through Disney on Broadway’s Tony Award-winning catalogue. The performance will feature songs from Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aida, Tarzan, Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, Newsies, Aladdin, Freaky Friday and Frozen. (Talent is subject to change)

Disney on Broadway fans can also celebrate this milestone anniversary by visiting the VR (virtual reality) theatre on the D23 Expo floor. The brand-new VR experience puts you center stage in AladdinFrozen and The Lion King’s biggest Broadway production numbers, featuring Broadway’s Caissie Levy (Elsa), Major Attaway (Genie), Telly Leung (Aladdin) and Tshidi Manye (Rafiki).

About Disney on Broadway: A 25th Anniversary Celebration performers:
(Talent is subject to change)

Heidi Blickenstaff most recently created the body-swapping role(s) of Katherine (and Ellie) in Disney’s Freaky Friday for Disney Channel and Disney Theatrical Productions (Helen Hayes and Outer Critics nominations). On Broadway, Heidi was most recently seen as Bea Bottom in the 10-time Tony-nominated Something Rotten! (Outer Critics and Grammy nominations). Disney on Broadway audiences might remember Heidi as Ursula from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  Other Broadway credits include The Addams Family (Alice Beineke), The Full Monty and Tony-nominated [title of show], the original Broadway musical Heidi and her friends made about four friends making an original Broadway musical. Some favorite regional shows include Next to Normal (Diana) at the Weston Playhouse and First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb at the Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre and recorded for PBS. Heidi can be seen and heard on the DVDs of Freaky Friday and PBS’s First You Dream as well as on many Broadway and concert albums available wherever music and DVDs are sold. www.heidiblickenstaff.com

Ashley Brown originated the title role in Mary Poppins on Broadway for which she received Outer Critics, Drama League and Drama Desk nominations for “Best Actress.” Ms. Brown also starred as Mary Poppins in the national tour of Mary Poppins where she garnered a Garland Award for “Best Performance in a Musical.” Ms. Brown’s other Broadway credits include Belle in Beauty and the Beast, as well as starring in the national tours of Jack O’Brien’s The Sound of Music and Disney’s On the Record. Ms. Brown has starred in both Oklahoma! and Showboat at Chicago’s Lyric Opera and has performed with virtually all of the top orchestras in North America including the Boston Pops (twice), the New York Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at Disney Hall, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall (five times), Fort Worth Symphony, the Cincinnati Pops and Philadelphia Orchestra (twice). Ms. Brown’s PBS special called Ashley Brown: Call Me Irresponsible received a PBS Telly Award. Other television credits include NBC’s The Sound of Music. Ms. Brown is the voice of Disneyland celebrating its 60th anniversary singing the newly penned Richard Sherman song “A Kiss Goodnight.” Ms. Brown’s album of Broadway and American Songbook standards, Speak Low, and her newly recorded Christmas EP, The Secret of Christmas, are available on Ghostlight/Warner Brothers.

Gavin Lee just finished playing Lumière in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. In New York, he most recently played the Grinch at Madison Square Garden. Before this, he originated the role of Squidward in SpongeBob SquarePants the Broadway Musical (Drama Desk Award and Tony Award nomination). Before that, he played Thenadier in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables. He originated the role of Bert in the West End and Broadway productions of Mary Poppins (Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards, Olivier and Tony Award nominations). Gavin has appeared at Carnegie Hall in Showboat and in the world premiere of Holiday Inn at Goodspeed Opera House. TV credits include Law and Order: SVU, The Good Wife and White Collar. His favorite London theatre credits include Top Hat, Crazy for You, Peggy Sue Got Married, Me and My Girl, Over My Shoulder, Oklahoma!, Contact and Singin’ in the Rain. Gavin has performed his solo cabaret in New York, Chicago and on Disney Cruise Line.

Kissy Simmons is a native of Floral City, Florida, and graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.A. in Speech Communications. She was also a NCAA Division 1 Track and Field athlete. Kissy grew up playing the keyboard and singing in church, and was a State Champion high jumper at Citrus High School. After graduating from the University of South Florida, she got her professional theatre debut at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts where she was seen in Little Shop of Horrors (Ronnette), Jacques Brel and other seasonal cabaret shows. Broadway credits include: The Lion King (Nala). First national tour: The Lion King (Nala). Las Vegas: The Lion King (Nala). TV credits include Smash, Hope & Faith, 30 Rock, 6 Degrees and many commercials, voiceovers and print. Thank you, God for your grace and to my biggest fans Anthony and Sadie!

Josh Strickland is a native of Charleston, South Carolina. In 2006, Strickland created the leading role of Tarzan in Disney’s musical Tarzan® on Broadway. In 2009, he made his starring Las Vegas debut in Peepshow at Planet Hollywood Casino & Resort while concurrently co-starring in the hit E! reality show Holly’s World. Strickland debuted his first single “Report to the Floor,” which skyrocketed to the top five on the iTunes Dance Charts the first week of its release, followed by “Last Dance.” In 2013, Strickland joined the cast of Vegas! The Show at the Planet Hollywood Casino & Resort in Las Vegas in a starring role. Strickland has also appeared internationally with the all-star cast of Disney’s Broadway Hits, including the Emmy -winning concert at Royal Albert Hall in London, England. He most recently reprised his role as Tarzan in Disney’s musical Tarzan® in Oberhausen, Germany at the Stage Metronom Theatre. Twitter & Instagram: @joshuajstrick

Alton Fitzgerald White performed a record-breaking 4,308 performances as King Mufasa in The Lion King on Broadway. Alton recently added author and keynote speaker to his list of titles. His book, My Pride: Mastering the Challenge of Daily Performance, filled with secrets to fulfillment and joy in work and life, was recently published by Disney Editions. Other Broadway starring roles include Mister in The Color Purple, Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, Ken in Smokey Joe’s Cafe, John in Miss Saigon and The Hawker in The Who’s Tommy. Alton has performed concert dates all over the world. His best-selling CD Disney My Way!, along with autographed copies of his Disney book, are available at www.altonfitzgeraldwhite.com. Alton has had guest star roles on the hit TV series Law & Order, Bull, The Blacklist, The Good Fight, Code Black, Elementary, Mindhunter and Madam Secretary. He was most recently featured in the Pulitzer Prize-winning production of Rent which was performed live on Fox television. Please join him on his Facebook fan page, @WhiteAlton on Twitter, and @Alton2459 on Instagram.

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Caesar’s Reign Comes To The Big Screen With New Trailer For Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

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Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball (the “Maze Runner” trilogy) and stars Owen Teague (“IT”), Freya Allan (“The Witcher”), Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”), Peter Macon (“Shameless”), and William H. Macy (“Fargo”). The screenplay is by Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”) and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Patrick Aison (“Prey”), based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and the producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick, Jr., p.g.a. (“The Maze Runner”), Rick Jaffa, p.g.a., Amanda Silver, p.g.a., Jason Reed, p.g.a. (“Mulan”), with Peter Chernin (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) and Jenno Topping (“Ford v. Ferrari”) serving as executive producers.

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Masterchef Is Back! For Halo Season 2

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A quick recap – Halo is set in a war-torn 26th century, where humanity led by the United Nations Space Command or UNSC and their supersoldiers known as Spartans, fights against the onslaught of the alien conglomerate known as the Covenant. The full dust-up of Halo Season 1, can be found here. Onward into the introduction of Halo Season 2!

It’s been six months since the forced separation of Spartan Masterchief John (Pablo Schreiber) and Cortana (Jen Taylor), and the Silver Team has been sent on a mission to evacuate residents of the planet Sanctuary before the Covenant glasses the whole thing. This comes with its own set of challenges, given the resistance of the planet’s inhabitants, and it doesn’t help that Masterchef starts seeing things right in the middle of trying to save some marines. Or is he? Those energy swords the squad of Elites were carrying looked worryingly real.

Back on Reach, the Silver Team is entirely dismayed to learn they have a brand new Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) representative come in as the new boss, to finally replace the traitorous Halsey, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan). And of course, Ackerson manages to immediately get under Masterchief’s skin, by not only expressing far too much interest in John’s relationship with Cortana but also apparently disbelieving of John’s report of his encounters on Sanctuary. That just means Masterchief has to go around, if not entirely over, Ackerson’s head.

Elsewhere, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is trolling the slave markets in his boredom, only to stumble across a soon-to-be indentured servant who claims he knows the whereabouts of the UNSC’s most hunted human, Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). That should bring a huge bounty, but really, Soren should’ve known better by now.

Halo Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8th, 2024, and will continue to air every Thursday, only on Paramount+!

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Reborn as a Vending Machine I Now Wander the Dungeon’: I look forward to your next use!  

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If the title of this delightful little isekai anime entry didn’t give it all away, our nameless protagonist is a vending machine fanatic who, after being killed by a vending machine, gets reincarnated in another fantasy-style world as one! 

Japan has a tendency to give birth to all sorts of crazed fads that can last for decades, and no one does better when it comes to the vending machine industry, too. These days there are vending machines that will serve you sushi you can actually eat, hot pizza in the box, wagyu steaks, freshly popped popcorn, and a whole mind-boggling array of tasty treats, and other non-edible but still useful items! Umbrellas! Condoms! Oxygen masks, sterile bandages, shoes, and emergency clothing! Actually, far more things that we use on an everyday basis, could be considered as technically a vending machine, and the anime explores that beautifully. Into the world of vending machine fanaticism, we dive! 

So our poor protagonist never gave a name, and inevitably when he’s discovered by his first official friend the starving hunter Lammis, she dubs him “Boxxo”. Like many isekai that seem to take inspiration from video games and RPGs, Boxxo discovers he ways he can communicate, level up his existence, and even evince magic-like powers and attack and defend against monsters and enemies. Though in the beginning, and as an underlying theme throughout the show, Boxxo is primarily concerned with providing unique never-before-tasted-in-this-world food and drink to the amazed folk, human and otherwise. 

Boxxo’s prices are entirely reasonable and hey, he can even choose to give out his wares for free on occasion, so his popularity immediately skyrockets. Lammis with her awkward charm and prodigious strength blessing, introduces Boxxo to other friends of Clearflow Lake Village and associates along the way – Director Bear, an actual bear-monster who’s the head of the Hunters Association; Lammis’ friend Hulemy, the insane genius magic item engineer; the Bearcats Suco, Pell, Short and Mikenne, cheerful hunters with astronomic appetites; even suspicious Kerioyl, leader of the Menagerie of Fools party. 

The show approaches the practicality and versatility of the true vending machine with amusement, but also with the love true fans display for things they’re passionate about. Certainly, things like a brothel needing a condom vending machine exist in our world, but to toss them into a potentially more innocent other-world isekai is a welcome and often hilarious treat. The show celebrates the cheerful idiocy and devotion of the fans to their chosen fandom, in this case, yes vending machines, but also the spirit of the lonely otaku finally finding their Tribe! 

Pay your coins to watch ‘Reborn as a Vending Machine’ on Crunchyroll now! 

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