Fans couldn’t be more excited for another film to be added to the list of 2019 Disney releases. Aladdin followed behind The Lion King as one of Disney’s 2019 live action films. Before Aladdin hits the big screen, we rode the carpet into the Broadway scene to discuss how to keep the magic alive with the Genie himself, Major Attaway. Attaway plays the Genie in Disney’s Broadway musical, Aladdin. Disney has been producing Broadway Shows for 25 years and their casts are diverse with many Black actors in lead roles. Attaway opens up in a Q&A with our correspondent Dantee Ramos below.
GlobalGrind: As a little kid you made a wish, what did you wish for that you’ve seen come true now in adulthood?
Major Attaway: That’s easy, when I was ten; I think I was, not sure. But, I know that I was in the ninth row in the New Amsterdam theatre where I saw The Lion King for the first time on Broadway, I said to my mother that day as I was squealing from the edge of my seat, that this is what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to sing, I knew I wanted to do something in this business but I wasn’t sure, seeing The Lion King made it very clear for me. Now it’s a full circle moment because I work at the New Amsterdam Theatre and every performance I make sure to show a little love to that chair just in case I see someone who looks like me.
How do you keep that magic going, the fire in your belly for every show after performing for so many times?
Major Attaway: Lots of things, you have to take care of yourself outside of the work because if it’s all that you are then it’s draining, so I take mental breaks. In telling the story itself I have a unique situation with the Genie because I am required to break the fourth wall, I am required to check in with the energy of the audience. I am the narrator as well as one of the characters so I have to make sure I set the tone of the energy. I feel like its easier for whoever is playing the Genie because we don’t just check in with the actors, we are here to talk to them.
So if their energy is up and down I can perfect that, I can pull back to let them catch up and things like that. I use a lot of…I ask myself different questions daily to keep the character fresh. You see me come out of the lamp and offer him three wishes but no one ever asks me “Who was my last master?”, “How did I obtain my genie powers in the first place?” “What was I doing right before he rubbed the lamp?, “What does the inside look like ?”. These are things, questions I ask myself, to keep my reaction to Aladdin fresh. So I’m finding new ways there.
That’s real method acting right there
Major Attaway: Yes, Yes, (laughs) Different ways to add to the story so that’s there’s depth in answering his questions that I answer everyday.
What would be your dream role?
Major Attaway: One that is written just for me. Just for me.