Jay Paranada will star as Iago in the North American touring production of Disney’s Aladdin starting on April 7th in Denver, where the hit Broadway musical will play a limited three-week engagement at The Buell Theatre, 1350 Curtis Street, Denver, CO 80202, through April 28th. Click here for tickets and more information.
Paranada took a few moments from his rehearsal schedule to share his joy.
Lia: What was your reaction when you heard you got the role?
Jay: I must have experienced every single emotion possible. My journey with this show has been quite the ride to say the least. I was living in New York City at the time the first incarnation of the show was being developed at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. I flew out for the audition, and got the flu the night before my appointment, and so… that was that. Flash forward to years later, after having had several rounds with the creative team (by my count, it was 11 different times… so, actors, if anyone ever tells you to keep going and keep showing up, believe them!) I get a phone call from my agent telling me the good news of booking it and it felt like a full-circle, homecoming. It was my turn to take the torch!
Following the foot steps of such lovely and hysterical Filipino-American actors who originated the role (Don Darryl Rivera, DDR, of the New York Company, and Reggie De Leon, in the North American tour) is a wonderful feeling. These guys are genuinely awesome human beings, too, and I’m glad to call them my Barkada (Filipino for “good friends”). I am a big believer that #representationmatters, and the diversity of this show, and all of Disney’s championing of different cultures, ethnicities and walks of life in their productions, is truly remarkable.
Lia: Has this been a goal of yours?
Jay: It has. Being able to make a living doing what I love to do? Yes, please. This all came in such a perfect timing, as I am a new father (with my husband, Scott) to our daughter Lily Bea. She was born via surrogacy April 18, 2017 with the help of an organization called Men Having Babies, which was coincidentally a day before opening night of this tour in Chicago. Being able to support my family is such an important step for my personal journey, and is an honor that I don’t take lightly. My friends and family know that I’ve always been goal oriented. Having hit these personal benchmarks, I’m looking forward to setting some new ones. But first, let’s get me to my debut!
Lia: What excites you about playing Iago?
Jay: For someone like me who loves a chance to explore multi-dimensional, side-kick characters, stepping into this role is going to be such a treat. I always like to think that “villains” never know they are the “bad” guys. Their needs and wants just might not necessary align with the needs and wants of the others on stage. And it’s up to the viewers to interpret their motivations in their own minds. At the core of it all, I think Iago just wants to be acknowledged, respected and for all intents and purposes “seen” by Jafar, and will do what he can to obtain this adoration. Finding these moments are deliciously satisfying. And to top it all off, I am going to love being able to laugh like a goon on stage, night after night.
I began rehearsals at the Pantages in Los Angeles this past Tuesday, and I’ve had the pleasure of getting to explore this material (in a super expedited, “shot out of a cannon”, but thrilling all at once kind of way) with the cast. The entire company (from back of house to those on stage and everyone in between) has been nothing but welcoming in my short tenure. And my excitement is further elevated with being honored to act alongside such remarkably talented, hilarious and giving scene partners in Jonathan Weir and Adam Stevenson, our Jafar and Jafar standby, respectively.
Oh my gosh, I’m babbling! (“Calm yourself, Iago.”) Just one more tidbit about my excitement! I watched the show Tuesday night, and this cast is ON FIRE! If you haven’t seen the show yet, run! I found myself mesmerized and emotional by all the Disney magic. It truly is one of a kind. Growing up on Disney, and now being part of this family, is an incredible feeling!
Jay Paranada makes his Broadway First National debut with Disney’s Aladdin . Paranada has played the Engineer in Miss Saigon, the Baker in Into The Woods, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nicely Nicely in Guys and Dolls, Martin Van Buren in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Merrily We Roll Along (Astoria Performing Arts Center). He has worked extensively in the development of new musicals, including Daniel Green and Lezlie Wade’s The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen (dir. Brian Hill), Huey Lewis and the News musical Heart of Rock and Roll (dir. Gordon Greenberg), and labs with Prospect Theatre Company (By The Numbers, Monument, dir. Dev Bondarin) at the New York Times Center, New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, NYU Graduate Writing and Musical Theatre Factory. He can be seen starring in Kyle Lavore’s quirky film That Smell. He is a conservatory graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Psychology from Pacific Lutheran University. Paranada is represented by The Carry Company. Follow @jayparanada on Instagram/Twitter. www.jayparanada.com
Clinton Greenspan, who previously understudied the title role on tour, succeeds original Broadway and tour star Adam Jacobs, who will play his final performance as “Aladdin” on March 31 in Los Angeles at The Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Greenspan has previously been seen on stage in productions of Romeo & Juliet, Dreamgirls, Fiddler on the Roof and the North American tour of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Original tour cast members Reggie De Leon (Iago) and Mike Longo (Kassim) will play their final performances in Denver and will be replaced by Jay Paranada and Jed Feder respectively.
The touring production also features Michael James Scott (Genie), Isabelle McCalla (Jasmine), Jonathan Weir (Jafar), Jerald Vincent (Sultan), Zach Bencal (Babkak), Philippe Arroyo (Omar), Korie Lee Blossey (Standby Genie & Sultan), Ellis C. Dawson III (Standby Genie & Babkak) and Adam Stevenson (Standby Jafar & Sultan). Rounding out the cast are Mary Antonini, Michael Bullard, Michael Callahan, Gary Cooper, Jace Coronado, Cornelius Davis, Bobby Daye, Lissa deGuzman, Mathew deGuzman, Olivia Donalson, Michael Everett, Karlee Ferreira, Michael Graceffa, Adrienne Howard, Albert Jennings, Kenway Hon Wai K. Kua, Jason Scott MacDonald, Angelina Mullins, Celina Nightengale, Jaz Sealey, Charles South, Manny Stark, Cassidy Stoner, Annie Wallace and Michelle West.
Aladdin 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 12 New Amsterdam Theatre house records and welcoming over seven million people worldwide. Its global footprint has expanded to include productions in Tokyo, Hamburg, London and Melbourne, in addition to the two U.S. productions.
Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, the show 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 four-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), with a book by Beguelin, and is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon). Aladdin, adapted from the Academy Award®-winning animated Disney film and centuries-old folktales including “One Thousand and One Nights,” is brought to fresh theatrical life in this bold new musical. Aladdin’s journey sweeps audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance. This new production features a full score, including the five cherished songs from the Academy Award-winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage. The animated film Aladdin was released by Disney in 1992 and was a critical and box office smash, becoming the highest-grossing film of the year. The film won the Oscar for Best Original Score and introduced the hit song “A Whole New World,” which won the second of the film’s two Academy Awards as Best Original Song. The Peabo Bryson/Regina Belle recording of the tune soared to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Aladdin is designed by seven-time Tony-winning scenic designer Bob Crowley, six-time Tony-winning lighting designerNatasha Katz, two-time Tony-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes and sound designer Ken Travis. The production team also includes illusion designer Jim Steinmeyer, hair designer Josh Marquette and makeup designerMilagros Medina-Cerdeira. The music team is headed by music supervisor and music director Michael Kosarin, who also created the vocal and incidental music arrangements, joined by orchestrator Danny Troob and dance music arranger Glen Kelly. For more information, visit AladdinTheMusical.com/tour, Facebook.com/Aladdin and Twitter.com/Aladdin.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com