Aladdin — the story of a young thief living on the streets of Agrabah who thanks to blind luck, a magic lamp and the amiable genie inside it is able to turn his life around, marry the girl of his dreams and gets to ride a magic carpet— is coming to Broadway at the Hobby.
Based on the 1992 film, the musical version restores three Alan Menken/Howard Ashman songs that were cut from that film and adds four others by Menken and Chad Beguelin, who wrote the book for the musical.
Actor Clinton Greenspan is the self-described "guy in purple and orange." Every performance he gets out there in a vest and no shirt — which besides all the jumping around he does onstage — has compelled him to stay in the best shape he can.
"That was the turning point of like I need to commit myself to taking care of my body. You need to be fit and in shape to be physical. [The role] gave me a lot of knowledge and respect for how to take care of my body. I built a lot of confidence getting to wear this costume. I wear that vest and pants proud now."
What helps is his six years of tumbling background in gymnastics which he was deeply involved in until the competitive team he was on disbanded during his junior high years after the kids lost their coach. From there he switched to theater which wasn't that strange a transition considering the influence of his grandparents: great lovers of opera, the classics and the arts in general, he says. "I went to community theater every day after school. I felt like I was home. I fit in. "
Greenspan, who grew up in Arlington near Dallas, joined the national tour in 2017 as a member of the ensemble and understudy to the Aladdin role. In 2018 when he moved up to lead billing in Denver it was to replace Adam Jacobs who originated the role on Broadway and initially went out on the national tour.
"I get to sing a song called 'Proud of Your Boy' toward the beginning of the show. It's that moment when Aladdin realizes he has to do better. He wants to make his mother who passed away proud. He knows it's not to late," Greenspan says. "The thing is, I’m a mama’s boy; my mother raised me by herself. Not a show goes by where I don’t dedicate that song to her. So I get to really connect my life to the life of Aladdin.
"And also we're not that different. We're two physical, goofy boys just jumping around. We don’t know how to speak to a pretty person. You think you can be charming and realize you sound like a complete goof."
Greenspan admits to being initially afraid about riding on the magic carpet. "I'm afraid of heights. But then we got going."
And now his magic carpet scene while "A Whole New World" is performed is one of his favorite parts of the show. "You don’t see the audience, You feel like you’re flying through space in the sky. The fact that I've done it hundreds of times now and it still doesn't get old."
Although Greenspan says kids will greatly enjoy the show, it's really for all ages, he says. "It's for everyone to have a good time." Including the cast and crew.
Performances are scheduled for June 26 through July 14 at various times at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For more information, call 713-315-2525 or visit thehobbycenter.org or broadwayatthehobbycenter.com. $30-$95.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.