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Special Features 1,001 (And More) Nights in Agrabah

Nine long-time Aladdin company members celebrate the Disney musical.

Aladdin company members Marc J. Franklin

When Aladdin began performances in 2014 at the New Amsterdam Theatre, nine of the show’s current performers were among the opening night cast. While some have left and come back, it’s a 20 percent retention rate that deserves applause. Below, the cast members reflect on their time in the Disney musical. (Some quotes have been edited for length and clarity.)

“It’s an honor to be an original company member of Aladdin. From the beginning, our audience has been full of young people seeing their first Broadway show. When I’m onstage, I’m very aware that we are engaging and nurturing the next generation of theater performers and patrons. I’m proud to be part of that tradition and responsibility.”
- Tia Altinay, Ensemble

“It has been thrilling, and I have felt unimaginably privileged, to be able to usher the character of Jafar, that I created the voice for in the 1992 animated film, to our spectacularly beautiful Broadway production!” - Jonathan Freeman, Jafar

READ: Passing the Staff: Jonathan Freeman Says Goodbye to Jafar on Broadway

Jonathan Freeman and Don Darryl Rivera

“Little did I know that 10 years ago, an audition for Babkak in the 5th Avenue Theatre production of Aladdin would turn into me originating the role of Iago on Broadway and playing the part 2,500+ times over the last 7 years night after Arabian night at the beautiful New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street. From the lifelong friendships I’ve forged with my fellow castmates to the unforgettable memories, the show has changed my whole life and I am forever grateful…As Iago says, ‘My only crime was loving too much!’”
- Don Darryl Rivera, Iago

“Being in Aladdin as an Original Broadway cast member will always be a game-changing experience. Ever since I was a child, I always wanted to be a Broadway performer after constant rewatches of Into the Woods with Bernadette Peters on VHS. There is something truly magical about being able to perform on a Broadway stage night after night thinking that I could inspire the next generation of performers.”
- Stanley Martin, Ensemble

“I first auditioned for Aladdin in the spring of 2011 for its Seattle pilot production. Subsequently, our Toronto out-of-town tryout came, followed by the Broadway opening. With that, Aladdin has been an anchor in my life and has defined the last decade for me, both professionally and personally. I have met and worked with the most wonderful people I can confidently call friends and family. To be part of an original Disney Broadway cast is a dream... almost 8 years on Broadway is beyond anything I could have hoped for.”
- Bobby Pestka, Ensemble

Michael James Scott in <i>Aladdin</i>
Michael James Scott in Aladdin Deen van Meer

“Being a part of the Aladdin Broadway legacy from the beginning was something I knew would be special before I even took the job. This piece is so much bigger than any of us, and it represents so much for so many people worldwide. People say music is a universal language. Well, having gotten to play The Genie around the world, I can truly say that Aladdin is a universal show. The love, light, and laughter filled with joy that has been a part of this journey from day one is beyond a blessing and means so much to me as an actor who gets to embody those joyous words every night.”
- Michael James Scott, Genie

“Working on Aladdin has been a dream come true from the very beginning. The original company members have become family to me. The energy between all of us was electric, and it remains magnetic. You can’t help but be drawn into the magical feeling that this show creates. After all this time the unforgettable moments continue to roll in!”
- Ariel Reid, Swing, Dance Captain, Fight Captain

“To me, being a part of Aladdin has been an incredible experience of growth and learning. Having the rare ability to work on a show for years has given me the opportunity to find all of the hidden nuances in the piece, and I am still discovering gems. The fact that we get to perform for such an engaged audience keeps the show fresh, light, and full of color. It helps that the entire company is welcoming, warm, and loving, too.”
- Jaz Sealey, Ensemble, Fight Captain

Dennis Stowe in Aladdin. Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made

“As artists and performers, I think we are sort-of conditioned to think that we should always be moving or always be looking for the next ‘best’ thing, or that any sense of security is something that we should relinquish and not come to expect. Choosing to stay in a long-running show like Aladdin has provided me with a sense of security and family I didn’t think I could have and didn’t know that I needed. The familial feeling of this show started from the very beginning, and everyone new who comes into the show always comments on how special it is and continues to be. We’ve experienced marriages, children being born, triumphs, setbacks, celebrations, and mourning all together as a family. I know that my life has been enriched artistically and personally because of my choice to stay and appreciate what it is, rather than obsess about what it isn’t. And what it is, is an absolute blessing.”
- Dennis Stowe, Jafar/Sultan standby (will take over the role of Jafar January 25)

 
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