Back On The Block: Clifton Davis Returns To His Broadway Roots With Majestical Role In Disney's Aladdin

By Karu F. Daniels
08 Apr 2014

"I've seen the movie and of course in the movie The Sultan was sort of a non-entity," Davis explained. "I mean, he was a meek and mesmerized puppet leader and he was short and stubby and white. So it was quite different. So I knew if they were entertaining the idea of using me for the role, it would be different. I only saw the sides, I didn't see the entire script until we finally started rehearing and upon reading the script I was very, very happy that my character figured very strongly in the show and I think it gave me the opportunity to contribute to the piece by bringing just a little dignity and gravitas."

Even after 40, or 20 years away from Broadway, getting back into his musical theatre groove wasn't that much of a stretch for Davis, who turns 69 later this year; before Aladdin started rehearsals, he played Dr. Dillamond in the national tour of Broadway's Wicked during a 16-month run. Before that, he toured in David E. Talbert's urban theater stage-play What My Husband Doesn't Know, which was filmed for BET and continues to air on the network.

"So I've been ramping up for another Broadway stint and God just blessed me with this part and I'm proud, proud to be a part of this company."

"It feels phenomenal, it feels wonderful," he said about the Casey Nicholaw-directed spectacle replete with Arabian themes, a disappearing genie and a flying magical carpet. "Every night when the orchestra strikes a downbeat, excitement rushes through me again. It helps to lift me and prepare me to give the best performance I can give. And it does the same for every cast member. We love our show."

"I've done other shows but I've never worked with a cast that gelled as well as this cast," he continued. "We are concerned about each other and we have a high regard or each other's gift. It's a very special unit. And none of us take it for granted."

Davis can still be seen regularly on television too. Classic episodes of 'That's My Mama' often airs on the TV One network. He's also resumed his role as host of 'Praise the Lord' series on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

"I'm grateful that I'm able to now do ministry and do a role that doesn't conflict with that and therefore fulfill my calling in both areas because I see acting as a calling too," he added. "I see it as a gift just as singing and dancing. Acting is also a gift that's natural when you develop and treat it like the valuable entity it is.