As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to some of our favorite artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.
The series continues with original Aladdin cast member Michael James Scott, who has played several stints as the Genie in the hit Disney musical at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre. The actor, who served as a standby when Aladdin first opened in 2014, went on to play the Genie full-time in Australia, in London's West End, and in the North American tour. His additional Broadway credits include Something Rotten!, The Book of Mormon, Elf, Hair, The Pirate Queen, Tarzan, All Shook Up, and Mamma Mia!. Scott can currently be seen in the world premiere of the digital musical A Killer Party: A Murder Mystery Musical. The nine-episode musical is available for purchase via AKillerPartyMusical.com.
What is your typical day like now?
A typical day now is so different because each day always feels different. I start my day off with a fierce latte and usually an omelet and watching The View. During this time I usually do a run down of what’s on the calendar, and usually it’s starting off with some sort of virtual class or appearance for a group that I’m teaching or doing a Q&A with. There’s also some kind of singing for either a benefit or filmed song for various organizations. A lot of scheduled FaceTime calls with friends… All of a sudden, it’s the end of the day and my husband and I usually take a walk around the neighborhood for some exercise. I’ve been doing a lot of cooking during this time, so when we get back from the walk I usually make us dinner, and I love that time because it’s like my own office, and I watch TV and dance around making meals! Then, usually we end with some kind of TV time, whether it’s a movie or TV show—oh yeah, and there are dog walks thrown in there as well... How could I forget about our princess Frenchie Chloé Phylicia!
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
Michelle Obama’s Becoming (I recommend doing the audio book because she is reading it, so it’s like you’re having a kiki with her in your car or wherever you’re listening to it).
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding Black artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
I am hopeful that people are actually listening and are actually challenging themselves to think about this time. And that it’s OK they may feel uncomfortable. That we all have grace for growth and that inclusivity and just diversity is a part of the narrative.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
Shoshana Bean and I had a catch up, and during that conversation she said to "breathe through the uncomfortableness," and I love that. It’s helped me personally, and I say it to everyone now!
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
This is a challenge, but I think getting to do a number of virtual classes and talks and panels has really been such an incredibly creative flow for me. I am trying to keep all that going as much as possible.
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I’m working on a couple things… I was a part of a full, self-isolated digital new musical with a core of artists of about 40 people, and it’s pretty epic!! It’s called A Killer Party, and I couldn’t be more excited for the world to see it. It’s available for streaming right now everywhere. Everything was done individually, and wait till you see how it all came together. The other project I’m working on, I’m not allowed to talk about it yet, but stay tuned!