Morgantown, W.Va., native joining ‘Aladdin’ at the Benedum for 3-week run
The Genie in Disney’s “Aladdin” will travel by transatlantic flight rather than magic carpet to get to the Benedum Center for a three-week engagement of the hit Broadway musical, from Aug. 22 through Sept. 9.
Morgantown, W.Va., native Trevor Dion Nicholas, the original Genie and current star of the London West End production of “Aladdin,” will trade places temporarily with the North American tour’s current Genie, Michael James Scott, who will play the role in London at the Prince Edward Theatre in August and September while Nicholas is in the states.
Nicholas said the “Genie exchange” is part of an initiative designed to enable actors to experience other productions of the show. He also will perform in Atlanta and New Orleans before returning to the UK.
The tour is part of the 2017-2018 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series, presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Broadway Across America.
For Nicholas, the switch gives him an opportunity to come home to visit friends and family, many of whom are planning to attend performances of the musical.
“My parents still live in Morgantown, and friends are coming up to see the show. I’ll definitely have the home-field advantage in Pittsburgh,” he said in a phone call from London. “The opportunity to perform on the Benedum Center stage, where I saw numerous shows growing up, means so much to me and those I love.”
First stop Broadway
The actor-singer performed with the Broadway production of “Aladdin” before moving from New York to London in 2016. His contract at the Prince Edward Theatre runs through June 2019.
Having lived and worked all over the U.S. and in Germany and Japan, he said moving to England wasn’t a difficult transition. He’s especially enjoying the cultural opportunities and foods his adopted city provides.
Nicholas said his Genie role is “a marathon, but a fun one,” especially when performing the show-stopping song, “Friend Like Me.” The number typically generates a strong reaction from the audience, he said, including standing ovations that “are always a good feeling.”
The graduate of Morgantown High School and West Virginia University also performed in the West End production of “Dreamgirls,” the North American tour of “Big River,” and regional productions of “Super Fly,” “Ragtime,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “The Wiz.”
His television credits include “The Americans, “Disney’s Broadway Hits at Royal Albert Hall,” “Sunday Night at the Palladium” and “Royal Variety Performance.”
Happiest of creative outlets
He also is a singer-songwriter for an independent alternative Indie soul band, Neighborhood Goliath, and plans to be back in the studio recording in October.
“It’s my happiest of creative outlets,” he said.
The cast of “Aladdin” at the Benedum also features Clinton Greenspan (Aladdin), Lissa deGuzman (Jasmine), Jonathan Weir (Jafar), Jay Paranada (Iago), Jerald Vincent (Sultan), Philippe Arroyo (Omar), Zach Bencal (Babkak) and Jed Feder (Kassim).
Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, “Aladdin” is adapted from the 1992 Academy Award-winning animated Disney film and features a score that includes songs from the movie soundtrack, including “A Whole New World,” and others written for the stage.
Ticket-holders can attend a free pre-show talk, Know the Show Before You Go, at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Trust Arts Education Center, 805 Liberty Ave. Registration is required.