Dis­ney’s Aladdin grants Win­nipeg per­former’s back-to-Broad­way wish

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Kevin Prokosh

WIN­NIPEG theatre ex­port Jaz Sealey is the only Cana­dian in the 34-mem­ber cast of Dis­ney’s Aladdin that opens in Toronto Nov. 1 be­fore it rides a magic car­pet to Broad­way next March.

The 26-year-old Lord Roberts res­i­dent — a prod­uct of Grant Park High School’s Per­form­ing Arts Pro­gram — is re­turn­ing to the Big Ap­ple, where he made his de­but in Je­sus Christ Su­per­star last year.

“It is quite sweet, the fruit I am bit­ing into,” Sealey said over the phone from New York City where he is re­hears­ing. “To do it again is just as in­cred­i­ble. It makes me feel like I be­long.”

Sealey nabbed a po­si­tion in the en­sem­ble, where he will por­tray Prince Ab­dul­lah, a suitor for the free-spir­ited Princess Jas­mine, as well as un­der­study Kas­sim, one of Aladdin’s bud­dies. The mu­si­cal, based on the 1992 film block­buster, fea­tures mu­sic com­posed by eight-time Os­car win­ner Alan Menken, scenic de­sign by six-time Tony win­ner Bob Crow­ley and light­ing by three­time Tony win­ner Natasha Katz.

As op­posed to Je­sus Christ Su­per­star, which was a re­vival by Strat­ford Fes­ti­val, Sealey this time is in on the bot­tom floor of the con­struc­tion of a new adap­ta­tion of the fa­mous brand.

“To be in the room with Os­car win­ners and Tony win­ners is a spec­tac­u­lar thing,” said Sealey, who made his pro­fes­sional de­but in Man­i­toba Theatre Cen­tre’s 2006 pro­duc­tion of Guys & Dolls.

“I learned from Kim­ber­ley Ram­per­sad, my first dance teacher at Rain­bow Stage, to keep my eyes and ears open in the re­hearsal hall, be­cause ev­ery­one there has more ex­pe­ri­ence. I’m con­stantly watch­ing to see how its done and try to do the same. It’s the best place to learn.”

To get in that room, he sur­vived an oner­ous au­di­tion process that started in Toronto last Fe­bru­ary with a dance call, and then got called back to read for Kas­sim. Then it was on to New York for two more days show­ing his stuff for a panel that had grown to 15 show of­fi­cials.

“My think­ing is that I would just try to be me,” he said. “I sang Proud of Your Boy and I thought that’s what I was try­ing to do, try­ing to make my mom proud of her boy. I think the hon­esty had some­thing to do with me get­ting the job.”

Sealey got the good news last April but had to keep quiet un­til the Dis­ney an­nounce­ment this week. His mother De­bra was ec­static but had to pull it to­gether to keep mum, too.

“She is cer­tainly proud of her boy,” he said with a laugh.

Since last per­form­ing in Win­nipeg in Sues­si­cal for Man­i­toba Theatre for Young Peo­ple in 2006, Sealey has worked steadily in Toronto in the long-run­ning Dirty Danc­ing ( 592 per­for­mances) and five Strat­ford shows, in­clud­ing Je­sus Christ Su­per­star (116 Broad­way per­for­mances). High­lights of his new York de­but was the thrill of see­ing the show’s huge bill­board in Times Square and per­form­ing at the 2012 Tony Awards.

The for­mer Win­nipeg hockey player looks for­ward to again be­ing part of the re­cent pa­rade of Win­nipeg tal­ent headed to Broad­way. Sealey just saw Alexan­dra Frohlinger in Soul Doc­tor, which might not last much longer un­less there is an im­me­di­ate ticket-buy­ing surge. A floor away from where Aladdin is re­hears­ing on 42nd Street, Win­nipeg’s Stephanie Sy is pre­par­ing to go out on the road with the first national tour of We Will Rock You.

“It’s nice to have lunch breaks with a fel­low Win­nipeg­ger and see a fa­mil­iar face,” he said. “It’s pretty amaz­ing so many of us are here.”

SUP­PLIED PHOTO

Sealey made his Broad­way de­but last year.

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