Broadway Across Canada brings Disney’s Aladdin to Calgary

If you’ve ever wanted to see the lovable Aladdin, lovely Princess Jasmine, and the wisecracking genie of Disney’s Aladdin on stage then you’re in luck. Broadway Across Canada is bringing the popular touring production of Aladdin to Calgary as part of its 2022-2023 season. Celebrating its ninth anniversary on Broadway, the animated film that inspired the musical was released in 1992 and has been one of Disney’s most popular films to date. 

Marcus M. Martin plays the role of the genie and is earning rave reviews as the popular, wisecracking larger-than-life character. Audiences will be delighted with catchy and familiar songs including Prince Ali, Arabian Nights, Friend Like Me, and, of course, A Whole New World. Martin credits his co-stars with pushing him to be the best he can be night after night. When he isn’t playing the blue man himself on stage, Martin can be found watching sports on TV or playing sports games on his PlayStation 5 or spending time with his fiancé. 

We spoke with Martin to get a glimpse into what went into playing this iconic role.  

What can audiences expect with Broadway Across Canada’s presentation of Disney’s Aladdin?

Our show has everything people love about Broadway musicals. A touching love story, great songs that will be stuck in your head, flashy costumes, big dance numbers and comedy. Our show really has it all. Audiences can also expect our show to carry the DNA of the legendary film, but not be a carbon copy. There are some awesome new songs and characters that take the story to the next level.

How did it become your dream to play the Genie? 

I decided that I was going to be the Genie someday the night I watched James Monroe Iglehart perform Friend Like Me live at the Tony Awards as a teenager. To see a Black, plus-size actor in a role like this gave me permission to dream in a new way. 

Marcus M. Martin

How did you prepare yourself to play such a larger-than-life, iconic role?

I had about five months between getting cast and starting rehearsals to prepare. The first step was developing the stamina to perform Friend Like Me eight times a week. I would run on the treadmill while singing Friend Like Me every day for months. I also watched a lot of old standup comedy specials and I studied the way comedians like Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx and Eddie Murphy worked the crowd. I studied the way they paced their jokes throughout their sets. I also watched a lot of old Cab Calloway videos to study his showmanship. 

What is your favourite part about playing the Genie?

Getting to bring joy to our audiences. Putting a smile on people’s faces and making them laugh. If someone leaves the theatre happier than they were when they walked in, I’m happy. I also love giving people an opportunity to relive their childhood. So many people who grew up with the animated feature have a deep, emotional, nostalgic connection to these characters, so helping people embrace their inner child is special. 

Broadway Across Canada’s production of Aladdin runs at Jubilee Auditorium from July 18 to July 23.