Trevor Dion Nicholas as Genie in Disney's Aladdin

Disney's Aladdin: Introducing Trevor Dion Nicholas as "Genie"

Fri, Aug 3, 2018

Written by: Kayla Washko; Photo by: Deen van Meer (Disney).

Morgantown native Trevor Dion Nicholas has charmed audiences on Broadway and London’s West End as “Genie” in the live stage adaptation of Disney's Aladdin. Now, he’s heading home to take the Benedum Center stage when the national tour rolls through town August 22 - September 9 as part of our PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series.

Nicholas won the 2017 WhatsOnStage Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical. Needless to say, it will be a special treat for Pittsburghers to see the acclaimed actor perform the role of “Genie” right here in the city they call home.

But it’s an equally anticipated homecoming for Nicholas himself, who traveled often to Pittsburgh with his family growing up. As a teenager, his parents surprised him one year with tickets to the national tour of Ragtime at the Benedum Center for his birthday. “That one really, really resonated with me. I’m sitting there in Pittsburgh in the audience, and that’s the first time I remember thinking that I wanted to perform for a living,” he recalled.

At the time of his epiphany, Nicholas was already no stranger to the stage. His journey as an actor began much earlier, when he was just eight years old. Like many boys his age, he had an animated personality, and says his parents realized that energy could be “directed into something.” So his dad signed him up for a local improv class, which quickly sparked a new passion in him.

Nicholas continued performing throughout his high school years and eventually enrolled in West Virginia University as a vocal performance opera major. He found early success after completing only one semester there, joining the national tour of Big River. He later returned to WVU, this time using his studies to focus on acting.

The decision proved to be a smart one. Flash forward a few years, to Nicholas becoming a standby for “Genie” in the Broadway production of Disney’s Aladdin.

But his big break came five months in, when he was asked to originate the role in the West End production of the show, which opened in at the Prince Edward Theatre in May 2016.

In many ways, becoming part of the Disney family has been a dream opportunity for Nicholas. He was just 10 years old when the animated film was released, and fondly recalls growing up with its songs and characters.

“Getting to be part of the show and see it through a different perspective is really cool,” said Nicholas. “There’s this deep nostalgia pool for people my age who grew up with the movie and then are reconnecting with it in a different way now as adults. They still have those heartstrings being played by what they’re familiar with but at the same time, there’s a sense of humor that’s quirkier than what a kid enjoys.”

Bringing “Genie” to life on stage

The 1992 animated film established “Genie,” originally voiced by Robin Williams, as a larger-than-life, high-energy character with great comedic timing. Throughout the film, “Genie” zips and zooms around the screen, constantly appearing in new forms and transforming everything around him. So how does such an exuberant, magical character get brought to life on stage?

First, with lavish costumes from Tony®-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes. In the stage adaptation, Genie is outfitted in a royal blue suit adorned with stunning, hand beaded Swarovski crystals. “It’s incredible. It’s colorful, it’s bright and it’s vibrant,” boasted Nicholas. “My costume is really one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen on stage, let alone that I get to wear it.”

Next, with a lot of song and dance. As a general rule, whenever “Genie” appears, audiences can expect a show stopping number filled with booming vocals, dynamic choreography, special effects, and costume changes that happen in the blink of an eye. (Over the course of the show, 102 of those costume changes take place in less than a minute, creating a wonderful illusion of magic.)

Finally, “Genie” comes to life with plenty of that comedic, charismatic personality that has become so emblematic of the character. Nicholas said he feels right at home in that space. “He [Genie] becomes a heightened version of myself. That’s what really makes it work.”

Come see Disney's Aladdin at the Benedum Center August 22 - September 9, 2018. 

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