My high-school boyfriend took me to the Long Beach Playhouse for our first date. I loved it. Most of my friends went on bowling or football-game dates or out for pizzas or to the movies. Going to the theatre that night made me feel quite elegant and grown-up. I wish I could remember which play we saw.
Now, when I go to see a play, my hubby Steve usually accompanies me, and although he usually balks at the thought, he has never walked away unhappy. In fact, most of the time he tells all of our friends how much fun we had.
Back in January we had the chance to see the opening-night performance of Disney’s Aladdin at the Pantages. Being big fans of the animated movie, I knew it wouldn’t take much to convince Steve to join me.
The purpose of my writing is not as a play review, although we did indeed love it. Instead it is to share with our readers the information I gathered when interviewing one of the cast members, Reggie DeLeon. How did I get the interview? Knowing I had attended the performance, the folks in charge of the marketing of the show reached out to me by email to ask if I would like to interview Reggie by phone. I jumped at the chance. Within a few days, the arrangements were set and I made what turned out to be a very informative and entertaining half-hour interview.
For a bit of background on Disney’s Aladdin, in the animated film, Iago is the parrot sidekick of Jafar, the movie’s antagonist. When I asked Reggie why the stage version of the character was not performed by a puppet or a guy in a parrot suit, he remarked that for the stage version, the powers that be wanted to “humanize” Iago, therefore the theatre’s character was portrayed as an annoying yet funny little man who most willingly carried out any of Jafar’s evil bidding.
While talking with Reggie, I learned that he enjoys going to see his fellow actors perform and does so as often as he can. I got a kick out of hearing that he has seen many performances at both Musical Theatre West and International City Theatre. Although he hasn’t had a chance to visit the Long Beach Playhouse, that won’t be the case for long. I promised I would send him a pair of tickets.
Besides an extensive theatre background, Reggie has done some film and a bit of voice-over work and currently plays recurring characters on the television shows Mom and Superior Donuts. When I asked him which medium he preferred, he hesitated and then remarked that performing before a live audience during the filming of a television show “is the best of both worlds [film and theatre]”
When we discussed his rehearsal daily timetable for Aladdin, Reggie filled me in on what I would imagine is a grueling schedule. “February 27, 2017 was our very first rehearsal [in Chicago], and we opened with previews on April 11.” He went on to say that his workdays were eight hours a day for six days in a row, raising to 12-hour days when the cast and staff transitioned to technical rehearsals, “like the special effects for the flying carpet.” Knowing that they had been on tour since last April, I learned that his touring company had also already completed their runs in Minneapolis, Seattle and San Francisco, and are now in Los Angeles at the Pantages. Although his particular group did shows in Seattle, Reggie told me that he had the chance to be in New York, “the Broadway Iago and I swapped productions,” enabling the other actor to play the stage in his hometown of Seattle.
When we spoke about his acting future, I asked Reggie what his dream role would be; his response was, “I would love to play Seymour in a production of Little Shop of Horrors.” I hope his dream comes true. I’d love to see him be the star of that show.
For those who would like to see the show, Aladdin will continue at the Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., in Los Angeles, with closing night taking place March 31. Performances are Tuesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 1pm and 6:30pm. Tickets are $35-$125+. To purchase tickets, or to find information on the show, call the Pantages Theatre at (323) 468-1770 or visit hollywoodpantages.com.