Magazine article American Theatre

It's a Small World, after All. (Front and Center).(Anne Hamburger's Aladdin)

Magazine article American Theatre

It's a Small World, after All. (Front and Center).(Anne Hamburger's Aladdin)

Article excerpt

"I DESCRIBE MYSELF AS AN AVANT-GARDE artist who was a closet sentimentalist," says Anne Hamburger. "I've now come out of the closet." For 13 years, Hamburger was artistic director of the now-defunct En Garde Arts, known for its site-specific work in settings with an aura of urban decay. In December, Hamburger will launch a live musical version of Disney's Aladdin in the Anaheim theme park. It seems like a rather sharp swerve from her downtown roots, but Hamburger herself describes it as more of a natural evolution.

"Because of real estate in New York City, En Garde Arts could work where there were big empty spaces downtown," she says. "Our work depended on a political climate. En Garde Arts was reacting to a city that existed in a period of time--today that city doesn't exist." Hamburger eventually came to feel that the company had gone as far as it could: "It was necessary to expand what I do--and I was always interested in musical theatre and larger-scale work."

After a brief stint as artistic director of California's La Jolla Playhouse, where she helped to develop the Broadway musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hamburger threw her lot in with the Magic Mouse. At Disney, Hamburger is in charge of hiring artistic reams and mounting live shows at the company's global empire of theme parks, cruise ships and resorts. Disney has traditionally attracted innovators like Julie Taymor, Matthew Bourne and Suzan-Lori Parks in its theatrical division, but Hamburger's post at its parks and resorts is something quite different. …

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