One lamp. Three wishes. Infinite possibilities.
Directly following their spectacular Opening Night performances at London’s Prince Edward Theatre, GT joined the stars of Disney’s new West End musical Aladdin to talk life aboard the magical flying carpet.
Read our interviews with the creative team behind Aladdin London, Casey Nicholaw and Alan Menken, here.
JADE EWEN and DEAN JOHN-WILSON — Jasmine and Aladdin
You’ve just come off stage at Opening Night — Jade, how are you feeling? J: Overwhelming, like completely overwhelming. Probably the highlight of my career! I’ve absolutely loved every second.
Dean, how was tonight for you? D: Tonight was electric. It was fantastic! It was insane.
And the magic carpet worked well… J: The magic carpet worked perfectly! [Laughs] We sang while flying. It was great!
And we all want to know how it was done… J: It’s Disney magic. We didn’t know how it’s done and the first time we saw it, we couldn’t believe it!
What are your memories of the Aladdin movie? J: I remember the first time I saw Aladdin because my parents bought me the Disney movie, and me and my sister watched it over and over again. I loved it! It’s kind of crazy that all these years later I’m playing Jasmine and bringing her to life.
Was Aladdin always your favourite Disney character growing up? D: YES! It was the first Disney film that I ever saw. A bit cheeky, a bit chappy. I saw myself as a bit like him growing up.
And your co-stars? J: My co-stars are the most talented and loveliest people. I have so much fun with them. It’s a shame that I don’t get to spend that much time with the Genie until the end. He’s so fun. And Dead is the most gentle sweetheart, a genuine sweetheart and a perfect Aladdin.
What does Jasmine mean to you? J: She was the first Disney princess that didn’t need a man to make her happy. She’s sassy and independent.
What’s the moment of the show that you really look forward to? J: [Laughs] Honestly, after I get off the carpet. Then, I know I can get off the carpet and relax a little. The hard parts are done. [Laughs]
Aladdin is a pantomime that we here in the UK love. How do you separate from that and deliver a West End performance? I think our piece has a lot of heart and truth, and a lot of people that have seen the film can expect a lot of the Disney songs and can expect a lot of truth at our show. It’s a lot different to pantomimes. There is elements of panto that’s part of the whole Disney feel. There’s something for everyone.
— Aladdin The Musical (@AladdinLondon) June 15, 2016
Dean, what’s your thoughts on working with Jade? D: Oh my God! She sings like a dream and acts like a dream. She looks OK… [Laughs] It’s wonderful to have someone so brilliant as my co-star.
And the costumes… J: The costumes are insane. They’re so beautiful and so detailed, but when you see the costumes up close, I think there’s 2.8 million crystals in the show, 1,700 in a ensemble Friend Like Me costume and the detail is incredible.
And finally, why should fans come and see Aladdin here in the West End? J: It’s an absolute speculate. You’ll have the most fun and it’s the biggest production to ever come to the West End. That’s not just me saying it, that’s a fact. We had standing ovations half way through act one, so if that’s not enough to get you down here to see a flying carpet, then I don’t know what is.
D: It’s literally for everyone. Family, children of all ages. It’s timeless. You’ll be taken on a journey of romance, love and overall you’ll just have a really good time.
TREVOR DION NICHOLAS — Genie
Congratulations on an outstanding performance tonight… Thank you, thank you. I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it. It was such a blast!
How was Opening Night for you? Incredible! That’s the best feeling in the world. I’ve never felt anything like it before.
That character. A total dream, no? [Chuckles] Oh, it’s awesome because I get to take so much of myself and fuse it with the character, and like take 10 year-old Trevor’s dreams and play with it all, the audience and play with everyone else on stage. It’s just the best feeling!
And play with some nice British references… Absolutely! We sprinkled a few in there just to keep it current and located to our geographic exposition.
What do you make of your co-stars? They’re fantastic! Dean and Jade are incredible and wonderful to work with. We’ve had time and built this all together so we’re all enjoying the ride together.
How much do you play with the role/audience in each performance? I have the ability to play the most out of all the characters so depending on the mood of the audience, I can try some different things out and keep it interesting.
And how were we as an audience tonight? Oh gosh! You guys were amazing tonight audience. It was fantastic! It was one of the best houses we’ve had. That end of Friend Like Me, like that reaction, was the most, most incredible feeling on the planet. Like, that was amazing!
How often do you get a standing ovation in the first act? We get a good reaction, but we don’t always get a standing ovation. That standing ovation tonight was something really special.
And how are London audiences for you? They’ve been fantastic! I was nervous at first coming over because I didn’t know how the audiences will react, but they’ve been very receptive and very responsive and we’ve been having a good time together.
How much time and space were you given to find yourself in this character following your time on Broadway? In New York, because I was coming in after James Monroe Iglehart [Original Broadway Genie], there was a mould that was already there. But here, we really struck it back and rebuilt not just my character but the whole show that is something specific for a London crowd, that you can’t get anywhere else on the planet.
Aladdin is an iconic Disney story. Were you a fan of the show before you joined? Of course! I was a MASSIVE fan! I had the cassette tape and I had the VHS tape and would listen to the cassette tape all the time. I’d unfold the lyrics and read them all. I’d learn all the songs when I was a kid and it was always my favourite Disney movie growing up.
I actually saw the Tony Awards performance and after seeing that, I wanted to see the show. I got tickets, I went to see the show for my birthday in 2014 and then in January of 2015 I auditioned for the show and ended up joining it. When I saw the show, I had no idea I was going to audition for it, I just thought it would be really cool to see it and maybe that’s something I could do one day. And then, all of a sudden, I was part of the magic! [Laughs]
— Aladdin The Musical (@AladdinLondon) June 15, 2016
If singing the iconic songs of Alan Menken wasn’t enough pressure, they’ve also added a few other iconic Disney ones, too… It keeps it interesting and keeps it fresh.
Pressure? It’s the most enjoyment I’ve ever had. Between the adrenaline and the way people react to it, it’s too much fun to be daunting or be fearful or exhausting — it’s just a blast all the way through!
Do you have a favourite? Ooh! My favourite song in the show isn’t mine, but it’s High Adventure. I think it’s the coolest song in the show.
And finally, anyone that’s thinking of coming to see the show — what do you say? Absolutely come and see it! You’re going to see something that you can’t see anywhere else in the West End. And even with this version of Aladdin, it’s something you can’t see anywhere else on the planet!
Official website: aladdinthemusical.co.uk