After drama school, touring roles and understudying for years, last summer Matt Croke took his place centre stage in one of the West End’s most beloved shows. Playing the title role in Disney’s Aladdin 8 times a week must have been a big change, though one he seemed to relish. Nearly a year later we checked in with him to see how he’s settled into the role. Don’t miss our interviews with his co-stars Jade Ewen (Jasmine) and Trevor Dion Nicholas (Genie).
Matt, assuming you’re quite adjusted to magic carpet rides, after understudying for years, how are you finding the star shine?
To be honest I can't believe I have been flying that carpet around for almost a year. Feels like yesterday when I stepped on the Prince Edward Stage. It’s been a dream come true and I’m still loving every minute- to have a part to call my own and get to play every night is just the best feeling.
Did your co-stars Jade and Trevor make you feel welcome when joining the production and do you feel at home at the Prince Edward Theatre?
The Prince Edward Theatre is so friendly and I feel so at home there. I recently performed in a charity concert that the front of house staff organised which was such a lovely evening as I got to spend time with them and see them all perform too. Coming into the show as the new Aladdin was very overwhelming but Jade and Trevor and the whole company made me feel very welcome and right at home from the start.
How are you finding the streets and skies of Agrabah, being a boy from Sheffield, is it indeed a whole new world?
Well, where else would I get to fly around on a magic carpet or have a genie as my best friend? Agrabah is the best!! Although, I'm very proud to be from Sheffield but unfortunately... no magic carpets there.
Aladdin is a pretty big role to make your debut in a West End leading role, but if you had your pick of any other West End leading role, what would you go for?
Aladdin was and still is a dream role for me. It's so different to any other dream roles of mine as it was something I dreamed of as a kid. Other dream roles came along the older I got and more training I had. That said, I've recently seen some videos and advertisements for Moulin Rouge which to be honest was another film/soundtrack I grew up with and it would be a dream to play the lead in that one day.
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?
It’s such an honour to play Aladdin and the pressure is definitely something I feel every night as the film was so big and the reason people come watch it is because they all love the film. The thing I love the most though is surprising people with all the new and different things in the show which they won't be expecting so the pressure is lifted slightly. All in all its just so much fun!
Would you make the jump over to Disney’s worldwide smash hit musical The Lion King, if presented the opportunity?
To be involved in anything Disney would be a huge honour!!
If Disney were to make another stage musical, what would you like it to be and what would be your dream role?
100% to play Patrick Dempsey’s part - Robert Philip- in Enchanted..... only if they added a lot of amazing songs for him!!
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 would absolutely LOVE to be in a Disney film. The magic would be unreal. That said there is something really special for the audience and cast to see the Disney magic come to life on stage.
Aladdin is currently booking through 1 December 2018. Buy your Disney’s Aladdin tickets here!
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