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. The North American tour is one of six replica productions around the world, joining those currently running on Broadway, in Tokyo, the Netherlands, Mexico City and Germany. Since the show’s 2014 Broadway premiere, more than 14 million people have seen 10 productions around the world.
Aladdin will make two stops in South Florida.The performances will begin in West Palm Beach at the Kravis Center on Wednesday, December 14 for a limited engagement of 10 days through Friday, December 23, and then at The Arsht Center in Miami for six days Jan 3-8.
Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, Aladdin 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 Prom, The Wedding Singer), with a book by Beguelin, and is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon).
Aladdin is designed by seven-time Tony-winning scenic designer Bob Crowley, seven-time Tony-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz, two-time Tony-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes and sound designer Ken Travis.
It was a pleasure to sit down with Ben Chavez (Omar) for this exclusive Hotspots interview:
At what age did you begin performing?
I started performing at the age of 3, and my start in the performing arts was in piano. At 4, I started singing acting and dancing lessons and from that moment on I never stopped performing.
What was your first professional gig?
The summer after my junior year at college I was a swing at a reginal production of “Grease” in Massachusetts. That was my first exposure to the equity theater world. For those that don’t know, being a swing is the hardest job in musical theater, and I learned in that job that I was not cut out for being a swing.
When did you know performing would be your career?
I always knew it was a passion, but I think right after I graduated from college I knew this would be it. I was fortunate enough to get an agent right away, and I was making money as a musician and as a stage performer from the moment I graduated.
Other than this one, what has been your favorite role so far?
I played the role of Juan in “Alter Boys” in Cape Cod, and I loved the role and the show so much as the show is about a boy band and it has all that kind of NSYNC/Boy Band kind of music and choreography. It brought me back to my childhood and that boy band music is timeless.
What’s your fantasy role (a role you haven’t played but want to)?
I am a Jersey Boy, and I was brought up with the music of Frankie Valley, so its obvious what role I want! I envision my self-singing the song “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” with that full band.
Is it intimidating or is there extra pressure being in such an iconic Disney show?
I think it’s the opposite as its really an honor. I have done it upwards of 450 times now and every time the music starts, I get excited.
Is it hard being on the road all the time?
It has its ups and downs. Its more fun than anything else, and I love going form city to city. I also love getting to know the difference audiences from different cities.
How hard is it being away from your partner for so long, and how do you guys make it work?
Yes, the hardest part is being away from my partner. However, we both hold this opportunity in high regard as Aladdin is how we met. I was in Houston on tour, and I met him, and we fell in love instantly.
You were a part of the first touring company of Aladdin. What’s the difference between the first one and this one?
I honestly think they are equally comparable and people who have seen both say they can’t see the difference. People are dazzled by Disney’s Aladdin.
How well do you and your castmates get along?
We get along very well, and I think that’s in part because I am only one of three actors that came back from the original tour and they look up to me for insights, etc. This has given the job even more meaning for me.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Energetic, compassionate, and silly (I am just a silly dude).
What do you do for fun?
I travel with my electric keyboard, so I like to just go into my hotel room and just jam out to Billy Joel or Elton John.
What should our readers expect from this touring company of “Aladdin”?
What I think is so appealing about the show is that adults have a blast watching this production. People can expect to see a magical spectacle, and laugh their faces off. They have created an environment where grownups have a fun night out. Also, the singing and dancing are out of this world. We truly have some of the best talents in the industry. It’s a telling of Aladdin unlike anything you have ever seen before.
View this post on Instagram
For more information on Ben, follow him at: Instagram.com/ben__chavez or you can go to his website at: Benchavezmusic.com.
For more information on the show, visit AladdinTheMusical.com/tour.
Tickets to the Palm Beach run are available at the Kravis Center Box Office and online at kravis.org. To charge tickets, call the Kravis Center Box Office at (561) 832.7469 during regular box office hours Monday through Friday from Noon to 5pm.
Tickets to the Miami run may be purchased now at the Adrienne Arsht Center box office by calling (305) 949-6722, or online at arshtcenter.org.