Hamilton is like the Disney World of Broadway right now, so you’re
not really going that far by switching shows. However, it is a completely
different ball game. How are you preparing?
I’m not yet. I just want to enjoy every single moment [in Aladdin]. Then I will turn around and
worry about history and older presidents.
How long will it take
to unwind before heading into Hamilton?
The funny thing is I never give myself enough time to do
that. Most people go on vacation in between shows. Not me. I don’t know why. Something’s
wrong with me. So I am taking off the glitter and putting on the ruffles in two
weeks’ time. I have two weeks of being
out of [Aladdin] before I start
rehearsals [for Hamilton]. Those two
weeks I will be trying to memorize as much as I can.
Have you seen Hamilton?
Aladdin was dark?
It wasn’t. I asked for it off way in advance. I said, “Listen,
this whole thing called Hamilton is
happening.” I said, “Can I go?” They were like, “OK.”
How did the
opportunity to be in Hamilton happen?
I was part of the first concert at Lincoln Center, so I know
a lot of the material and I know the guys who play the roles personally. My
friend Daveed [Diggs] was going on to greener pastures in Los Angeles. The
[creative team] said, “Do you want to audition?” At first I said, “No, you guys
don’t want me.” They were like, “Please come in.” It took me a week to decide
if I was going to go in and I went in. About four months later, I heard I got
the part. Disney has been fantastic to me and I think I’ve done everything I can
do as the Genie. It’s time for someone else to step into his pointy shoes and
see what they can do with it.
How did you originally
get involved with Hamilton for the Lincoln
I was part of Freestyle Love Supreme. Lin [-Manuel Miranda]
was in the middle of In the Heights.
He wanted to do this concert at Lincoln Center and he called the folks he knew:
me, Chris Jackson, Jon Rua and Mandy Gonzales were there. I played Hercules Mulligan
and James Madison.
There certainly won’t
be any improv like you’ve been doing in Aladdin.
I do believe Aladdin
has gotten me prepared for Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette because Thomas
Jefferson and Lafayette rap so fast. As
the Genie, I speak really fast and have a lot of lines. To spit out [Thomas] Jefferson
is going to be the same way. My lips are ready for this now. It’s taken
about three years, but I can do it.
Aladdin gets three
wishes. What are yours?
This is the pageant answer: I would like world peace, I want
my family to be taken care of and I would like to be doing this job as long as
possible. I look at James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson who are in their
eighties. I would love to still be doing this in my eighties.