Q&A with Aladdin star Trevor Dion Nicholas

Posted on 11 May 2018

Trevor Dion Nicholas is a big man with a big voice and an even bigger heart. When he got the call to originate the role of the Genie in the West End premiere of Disney’s Aladdin, nothing was going to stop him. We had a chance to catch up with him recently to see how things are going. Don’t miss our interviews with his co-stars Jade Ewen (Jasmine) and Matt Croke (Aladdin).

The role of Genie was already a demanding position to fill, but how do you feel approaching the role, when you’re being compared to the voice of Robin Williams who voiced the Genie in the animated film?
The comparison is always there to start with but it’s not something that I think most audience members hold on to once they are in the show. We’ve had an incredible creative team that never tried to replicate Robin’s masterful performance, we’ve always tried to make the stage version of the Genie something unique and original. I am allowed to channel as much of my quirky and strange self through the character as possible, just as Robin was allowed to do over 2 decades ago. The cross connection to the Genie is what makes it feels genuine and, in the end, relatable.

How are you finding your role of the Genie here in the West End compared to Broadway? Did you adjust for a different audience or do you find audiences universal?
I LOVE playing to West End audiences! They’re so honest and as a performer, you can truly feel the moments when you connect with them.  When I arrived we didn’t want to copy and paste the performance from Broadway. So I got to rebuild my show from scratch, finding new moments and nuances that make this particular production, and this particular portrayal of the Genie something you can only see here on the West End.

Being a songwriter and used to singing your own songs in alt-indie-soul band Neighborhood Goliath, how do you find singing someone else's songs, especially ones that people have known and loved since childhood? 
It’s always a dream to sing anything Menken, honestly. Alan Menken is the soundtrack of my childhood. I, of course, enjoy the connection I have to my own created lyrics and melodies, but when it comes to the best songwriters and composers on the planet, Menken should pop up on everyone’s list in my opinion.

Aladdin is not only one of the biggest musicals on the West End (and Broadway alike) but one of the most popular Disney films, do you still find a lot of pressure as you face a new audience each night?
Each evening’s audience is a different beast to tame, so the ever changing challenge of that keeps it fresh and exciting even with all these performances under the belt.

Would you make the jump over to Disney’s worldwide loved musical The Lion King, if presented the opportunity?
I would at some time in my career absolutely love to play Scar or Mufasa. Those have been dream roles of mine since seeing the production on Broadway in its first year. I, of course, could have a great time with Pumba as well, but one of the two feuding brothers would be first choice.

If Disney were to make another stage musical, what would you like it to be and what would be your dream role?
Easy one… The Nightmare Before Christmas and I MUST play Oogie Boogie!

Following on from that, Disney are making a lot of live-action versions of many of their popular films, is this something you would be interested in? Would you make that change from stage to screen for more Disney magic?
I think a stage to screen jump would be a fantastic opportunity to expand on a character or story that we’re already familiar with. Given the right script and creative team, I’d be all for it!

Aladdin is currently booking through 1 December 2018 at the Prince Edward Theatre. Book your Disney’s Aladdin tickets here!

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By Jade Ali

A love for theatre stemmed from my love of literature and music, but the West End on my doorstep opened up a whole new appreciation and passion for all things stage-y