By JACKIE MOE
For the first time ever, Costa Mesa will be introduced to a whole new world.
The dazzling, colorful, tuneful, highly anticipated Broadway musical “Aladdin” is making its way to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts for a three-week run, March 6-23. Inspired by the Academy Award-winning Disney film, the musical has it all: an action-filled premise, memorable love story, quotable comedy, exciting choreography and a load of recognizable songs that are sure to stir memories.
The production crew alone is a cast of all-stars. Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, the show features music by Tony Award and Academy Award-winner Alan Menken (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Newsies,” “Sister Act”), lyrics by Academy Award winner Howard Ashman (“Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid”), Tony Award and Academy Award winner Tim Rice (“Evita,” “Aida”) and Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (“The Wedding Singer”), with a book by Beguelin, and is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (“The Book of Mormon”).
Clinton Greenspan who performs in the lead role of “Aladdin” and Lissa DeGuzman who performs as “Jasmine” share the magic behind the beloved musical:
What inspired you take on these roles?
Greenspan: Honestly, my personal life was one of my biggest inspirations in taking on this role. I think back on all of the times I found myself getting into trouble, but knowing I was going to do better. In the beginning of the show, Aladdin sings ‘Proud of Your Boy,’ which is directed to his mother who passed away months ago. It’s the moment we see Aladdin’s determination in making a change for himself and everyone who sees greatness in him. I have always been a mama’s boy and I relate that moment to my relationship with my mother because she’s been my leading lady and my inspiration to constantly look forward.
DeGuzman: This role means a lot to me. I find Jasmine a very, very important female character, especially for these times. I personally love how forward-thinking she is and that she’s not willing to settle. And I think that’s a very important thing to teach and ingrain in one’s life. I know I want to live my life not wanting to settle and reaching for the stars. And she has things working against her. She has societal norms and she has her father, and she has Jafar trying to get everything, but she knows what’s right for her and she is not afraid to say no and is a strong female character in that sense. And I think that’s really important for nowadays.
What special parts do you personally bring to the role?
Greenspan: I like to say I bring my own kind of goofy and youthful approach to the character.
DeGuzman: I think there’s parts of her that can resonate with every woman, and I help to bring them along for this two-and-a-half hour journey with her. She loves and she believes in love, but she’s also strong and is a leader. And I hope to achieve those traits that resonate with each woman who comes in and sees the show. I know that’s a lot to achieve, but I’ve always hoped to do that and leave the audience thinking of this memorable, strong, inspiring woman.
What special elements separate the Broadway musical from the beloved film?
Greenspan: The two have many similarities, but the Broadway show has added songs that were originally involved in the animated film but did not make the final cut. In addition, Aladdin has three friends who take on the much admired position of Abu. I believe this adds a new and meaningful dynamic to Aladdin’s lifestyle and the show’s overall approach. You have more ways of relating to our story.
DeGuzman: We all grew up with this story. But what’s really cool about the stage version is the songs. It has all the songs from the animated feature that you would want plus songs that were originally written for the animated feature but were cut, and then new songs written for the stage version. So we have songs from three different places. So it’s a timeless tale because this stage version has been in the making for so long.
What has been your most memorable experience so far with the tour?
Greenspan: I would have to say my most memorable experience, so far, with this tour was the day I was told I would be taking over the role of “Aladdin.” After a year in the incredible ensemble and understudying the title role, I was about to fill the shoes of the incomparable Adam Jacobs.
DeGuzman: What’s cool about Clinton is he was an ensemble member understudy and I was understudying Jasmine. So we actually got to learn the show together as Aladdin and Jasmine, but as the understudies and then also doing our ensemble and swing positions in the original cast. So we were always each other’s first and we’ve known each other for these full two years, and we get along great, and we can joke about old times when we didn’t play these rules. And how it’s so surreal and crazy that we are playing these roles and how grateful we are to be here together.
What is flying in the magic carpet like?
Clinton: I speak the truth when I say it’s still an emotional experience. Once you’re in the air, you can’t help but feel like you are flying in the night sky.
DeGuzman: The magic carpet is just as magical riding it as it is seeing it. Disney is amazing with magic and it’s so safe and so amazing. I love riding that carpet every night. I’m not terrified at all (laughs).
Where: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
When: March 6 – 23, 2019, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday – Friday; 2 & 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7 and March 21; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: Start at $26.50
Online: (714) 556-2787; SCFTA.org