Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher presents Aladdin, the US tour, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin, starring Jonah Ho' Okano (Aladdin), Kaena Kekoa (Jasmine), Zach Bencal (Babkak), Colt Prattes (Kassim), Ben Chavez (Omar) and Korie Lee Blossey (Genie) directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw / Deen van Meer

Disney’s Aladdin will play the Broward Center for the Performing Arts from Wednesday, January 8 through Sunday, January 19. From the producer of The Lion King comes the timeless story of Aladdin, a thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and a breathtaking spectacle. It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite.

Aladdin, the hit musical based on the Academy Award-winning animated film, opened on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre to critical acclaim on March 20, 2014 and quickly established itself as one of the biggest new blockbusters in recent years, breaking 14 New Amsterdam Theatre house records; worldwide it has welcomed more than 10 million people and grossed over $1 billion. Its global footprint includes productions in Tokyo, Hamburg, London, and of course the tour across North America.

Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, under the direction of Thomas Schumacher, the show features music by Tony Award and eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Sister Act), lyrics by two-time Oscar winner Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), three-time Tony Award and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice (Evita, Aida) and six-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), with a book by Beguelin, and is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon).

Aladdin, adapted from the animated Disney film and centuries-old folktales including “One Thousand and One Nights,” is brought to fresh theatrical life in this bold new musical. Aladdin’s journey sweeps audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance. This new production features a full score, including the five cherished songs from the Academy Award-winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage.

Aladdin is designed by seven-time Tony-winning scenic designer Bob Crowley, six-time Tony-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz, two-time Tony-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes and sound designer Ken Travis.

The production features Jonah Ho‘okano (Aladdin), Korie Lee Blossey (Genie), Kaena Kekoa (Jasmine), Jonathan Weir (Jafar), Reggie De Leon (Iago), Jerald Vincent (Sultan), Zach Bencal (Babkak), Ben Chavez (Omar), Colt Prattes (Kassim), Jeremy Gaston (Standby Genie), Adam Stevenson (Standby Jafar & Sultan) and Frank Viveros (Standby Genie, Sultan & Babkak). 

It was a pleasure to sit down with Ben Chavez, who plays Omar for this exclusive Hotspots Interview: 

At what age did you begin performing and how did it happen? 

I always had an infinity for music since my parents played, and I started performing when I was 3 years old playing piano. I started giving recitals at age 4. That same year I got involved in singing, dancing and acting. I caught the bug and have never stopped pursuing it. I ended up going to my dream school, NYU, and got a BFA in acting with a focus on musical theater. I have been fortunate enough to be working in theater, since I graduated in 2015. 

What was your first professional role?

The first professional role I had I would never do again, it was a swing in a regional production of Grease at Northshore Music Theater outside of Boston. It was in between my junior and senior years of college. I was covering 8 different roles, it’s incredible hard!

How did you get cast in Disney’s Aladdin?

The tour has been out on the road for almost 3 years and I auditioned for this role when it first launched 3 years ago. I made it to all of the call backs, and in the last round they chose someone else. I was heartbroken as I knew this role was perfect for me. After two years that actor left and they called me to audition again, and this time I was cast. In theater, no doesn’t always mean no! 

How exciting is it to be on your first tour? 

It’s amazing! All I ever really wanted to do once Graduating College was travel and perform and its what I am doing. I am visiting cities I thought I would ever see. Traveling the world I have met so many amazing people, eat great food. 

The highlight for me is bringing Broadway to people all around the country. Seeing their faces mean the world to me. 

Other than this role, what has been your favorite to play?

I did a production of Alter Boys in Cape Cod and I got to play the role of Juan. It’s a boy band dancing spectacle in those insane 90’s costumes. It was so much fun to play!

What is your fantasy role?

Hamilton is obviously a revolutionary show and it would be awesome to be in that show playing either Hamilton or the Lafayette Jefferson role. I would also love to be Frankie Valley in Jersey Boys. 

What should our readers expect from this production of Disney’s Aladdin?

First of all this show is for any age, and makes for an awesome date night. You will laugh your butts off. Anyone who loves Disney and/or Aladdin will love this show which features a really great love story between 2 people who want to make a better life for themselves. When Jasmine and Aladdin take that magic carpet ride it’s like nothing you have experienced in theater before. 

For more information on Ben Chavez, follow him on Instagram.com/: Ben__Chavez. 

Tickets, which start at $35.50, are available at the Broward Center AutoNation Box Office, 201 SW Fifth Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, at Browardcenter.org or by calling 954.462.0222.