If there’s one thing that we can all most certainly agree on, it’s that the magic of Disney’s Aladdin will remain as timeless as the summer sun.
From its thrilling storyline to its underlying messages of love, hope and family to the many, many classic tunes that will always bring the Genie out of our musical bottles….it’s always here and so much more.
Just ask yourself…..how many times have you belted out “Friend Like Me” in the shower? And we just have to show our music love to the Kleenex grabbing, Oscar-winning ballad, “A Whole New World.” A gleaming piece of ’90s music which not only holds its place in the film and musical versions, but on the Billboard charts as well, where it became a number-one hit in 1992 thanks to the magical pairing of Regina Belle and Peabo Bryson, with lyrics by the one-and-only, Tim Rice.
And of course, we just can’t wait to see what Guy Ritchie does with his take on Aladdin when it hits theaters next summer with Philly’s own Will Smith taking on the big, big role of Genie…yes.
With all that being said, the city should feel so incredibly lucky that we get to have a chance to see the critically acclaimed traveling tour of Aladdin while its gracing its presence at the Academy of Music until July 1st. Of course, that also means that you should waste no time in grabbing those tickets to experience what all of the red-hot buzz is about. Really, why would you not want to when it comes to this show?
But before you set forth on a wild entertainment magic carpet ride (and that you will), get to know Aladdin himself–the most fabulous Mr. Clinton Greenspan. Not only is this Texas born actor a true first class (and highly talented) gentleman, but he straight up took over Philly Mixtape for a ridiculously fun chat about Moms, the Ab Roller, walking into doors after auditions (don’t we all?) and of course, all that it takes to slip into the role of Aladdin every night.
Get to know Mr. Greenspan below…you’ll be glad you did….and then go see this show!!
Kicking off our little chat, what inspires you to get into the role of Aladdin every night? I’ve already done the show with this cast for a year as a [Aladdin’s] understudy, so I’ve had moments here and there where I’ve got to go on and experience a little bit of what it’s like to get into the role. I started to use my mother as a huge inspiration for the show [of course] one of the main points in the show is that Aladdin is trying to prove himself and show his family that he can do more. So, I’ll use that before every show and either text my Mom or write a little note out on the dressing room mirror.
Not going to lie, I love that. Although they challenge us on the daily, Mom always knows best….. .Yes, they certainly do! But you just have to appreciate it.
Moving on to your background, what made you jump into the world of acting? I was actually more engaged in gymnastics–I did them for about six years. But [I remember] I would go over to my grandparents house and they would always have classic music playing on vinyl or have some musical playing-something featuring Gene Kelly, or Julie Andrews, or opera even. I was always interested in that form of art. But it actually took me a bit longer than other stories may tell. My first actual show was in 8th grade..I did Peter Pan outside the school at a community theater and I just fell in love with it all. I asked if I could do improv classes and basic dance classes and it just grew on me. Each year I learned a lot of new things and kept improving and kept it growing in my heart and I just fell in love with it more and more.
Okay, so….this show. Besides being absolutely mind-blowing, it looks–or it certainly is–very demanding physically. How did you adjust to..it all? I think the biggest challenge was building the stamina for it both vocally and physically at the same time. A lot of the numbers that are going on with me and most of the cast, actually, you’re doing some intense dance or movements while you’re singing, so building the stamina was probably one of the crazier challenges of the show.
Any warm up secrets you do verify each show that you can spill for everybody? I do some basic conditioning, tons of vocal warm ups and I actually try to get at least fifteen minutes of cardio in, as well as simple core workouts before I head on over to the show. I also have one of those things–I don’t know what it’s called but it’s just like a wheel.
I think it’s called the Ab Roller…I think they sold those on T.V. You know what….as self explanatory as it is…that makes perfect sense. Yes!
Let’s break some music mugs…..who’s rockin’ your world these days? I’m always weak for Red Hot Chili Peppers…they’re my go to band. I love those guys. Actually, I try to stick to some older Motown vibes or some funk, some grooves. I like to listen to a lot of Earth, Wind and Fire…they just kind of get me in the mood, whether I’m just trying to wake up or get into a positive attitude before the show. And I also love me some Fleetwood Mac.
All of the above, my man. So, one question I like to ask all of my tea patrons is what words of wisdom would you give to any performer who decided right this second to slide into this crazy entertainment business? Have patience and understanding and not have any self-doubt. This business can get hectic and scary and you can get a little lost but you need to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and why you want to go further in what you’re doing. I like talking to the youth about this if I go visit a school or talk to people outside the stage door because even if it doesn’t seem like there’s an impact from our side, they might remember just like a ten second moment of us telling them just keep fighting, just keep working on it and don’t give up. Because as basic as it may sound, it’s so true. It’s a rough business, but if you have the passion for it and you love it you just gotta keep fighting through and never lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Before we part ways….any totally embarrassing audition stories you’re up for sharing? Actually….one of the auditions I had for Aladdin is. I had a little boo-boo on the lyrics and then afterwards when they had me read and said thank you, I headed towards the door and I for the life of me could not open the dang door..literally could not get out of the room. Any performer knows that after you hit that final note, you want to get out of there. So, the fact that I struggled so hard to pull the handle down was the most embarrassing thing for me…and they were all just laughing. And to this day, I still struggle with doors a little bit.
Don’t we all. Okay, one last sip……describe Aladdin on one word…… Unbelievable.
Cover photo courtesy of Playbill