Matthew Croke has recently joined the London cast of Aladdin in the title role; here, he tells Rachel Bailey about how his West End debut is going.
Please could you sum up Aladdin in one sentence?
An incredible show, filled with the most talented cast and crew, amazing costumes and a breath-taking set.
You’re playing the leading role of Aladdin. How did you get the part?
I just had a call from my agent to let me know I had an audition for the part, so I went in and after a few more call-backs, I had another call to say I had been offered the part. I still can't quite believe it!
Tell me a bit about Aladdin’s character.
He's a lovable, cheeky guy who wants to better himself and make his mother proud. As an actor and as someone very close to my own mum, I definitely relate to Aladdin, and I’ve always wanted to make it on my own. I’m also lucky to have a family that has supported me 100%.
Why do you think audiences like this musical?
I'm pretty sure everyone loves the film – Aladdin is a Disney classic. So for that reason the audiences love the nostalgia it brings. And what the show also has that the film doesn't are the new characters that you instantly fall in love with (like Aladdin’s best friends Babkak, Omar and Kassim), as well as some amazing new songs. Plus, the costume and set design are just fantastic.
Pictured: Trevor Dion Nicholas as Genie and company. (Photo credit: Johan Persson / Disney).
How do you think audiences feel when they leave the theatre after watching this show?
When I watched it for the first time I couldn't stop smiling and felt so happy, so hopefully audiences feel like that, too. It's definitely a feel-good show!
Do you have a favourite scene in the show?
It's difficult to answer as I love performing it all, but I think my favourite moment (for now!) has to be the end of Act 1 when I get transformed into Prince Ali and sing the reprise of Proud Of Your Boy. It's the kind of moment that still gives me goose bumps and hopefully the audience, too.
Do you have a favourite musical number?
I'm loving Somebody's Got Your Back a lot at the moment. Performing with Trevor Dion Nicholas (Genie) as well as, Miles, Leon and Daniel (who play Aladdin’s best friends) is so much fun.
Do you have a favourite character other than your own?
Of courses – Aladdin wouldn't be the same without his best mate, the Genie.
Pictured: Jade Ewen as Princess Jasmine and Matthew Croke as Aladdin. (Photo credit: Disney).
What other shows have you been in?
I have been in a few other shows prior to this like Wicked, Grease, Chicago, Singin’ in the Rain and West Side Story. Aladdin is my debut as a lead-role in the West End though.
What’s been the highlight of you career so far?
Playing Aladdin in the West End is the biggest thing that's ever happened to me in my career but previous to that I have to say the biggest highlight was getting to perform the role of Tony in West Side Story in my hometown at the Sheffield Lyceum. I loved that role.
Where would we find you when you’re not performing?
I run a dancing/theatre school with my sister Rachel in Sheffield. So in my spare time I like to go and see the kids and help Rachel teach a few classes.
You can read Group Leisure & Travel’s theatre review of Aladdin here.
Aladdin is booking at the Prince Edward Theatre in London until February 2018. Group tickets are available for parties of 12 or more people.