The Broadway national tour of Disney’s ALADDIN is headed to Springfield for a six performance run at Juanita K. Hammons Hall. We asked some of the cast members about life on the road, what it’s like to tour with this Disney favorite, and what audiences can expect. First up, get to know Ben Chavez who plays Omar, Aladdin’s friendly sidekick in the musical.
BEN CHAVEZ (Omar) is excited to be back on the road with Aladdin after having traveled with the First National Tour! Off-Broadway: Marry Harry. Proud NYU Tisch graduate, award-winning songwriter, and piano man. Thanks to Mom, Dad, Walker, Robert, and all who believed. IG:@ben__chavez www.benchavezmusic.com
What was your path to becoming a professional actor?
I grew up in North Jersey a total theatre and music kid. From age four, I had a full schedule of acting, voice, dance, and piano lessons after school and I knew from that early age I wanted to be on stage. I studied drama at NYU Tisch, which as the perfect experience to catapult me into the professional theatre arena.
What was the audition process like for this show?
I auditioned for the role of “Omar” when the First National Tour launched in 2017. After having made it to final callbacks, I ultimately did not book the role. As a testament to the mantra, ‘no never really means no,’ I received an invitation to re-audition two years later and ended up booking the role that time around. Now, I’m excited to be back in the same role for this tour of Aladdin!
What’s your favorite part about touring the country with ALADDIN?
Travel, travel, travel! I’m a total travel nerd and I love getting to explore the culture within cities around the country. As an added bonus, I drive my car through the tour, so I can take it at my own pace more or less.
What do you enjoy most about performing in this show every night?
While the lines, songs, and choreography are set in stone, no two shows are ever alike. I enjoy playing off of my fellow cast mates and gauging the audience mood to see exactly what show we’ll cook up that day. What audiences in D.C. find funny may differ from what San Antonio audiences find funny. I love figuring out what each city loves.
What has the audience reaction been to ALADDIN?
What I constantly hear from adult audience members is that they didn’t expect to LAUGH so much! Of course, Aladdin, is great for theatergoers of all ages, but adults really get a kick out of the comedy, charm, and sparkle of our musical.
If you weren’t an actor, what profession would you pursue?
I’ve always been a pianist and songwriter aside from being an actor. I could really see myself being a recording artist performing in stadiums and arenas around the world.
What is one thing you’d wish for from the Genie?
Our show is unique in that it represents such a large array of cultural and social identities on a vast spectrum. I’d wish that all people on earth could be seen, valued, and respected for who they truly are.
What item can’t you live without while on tour?
I’d have to say my electric keyboard. As a songwriter, I’ve set a goal to try and write a new song in every city. So far, it’s going pretty well!
Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. I grew up not too far from where he grew up and that music was such a big part of my upbringing. It would be so nostalgic for me to get to perform those hits night after night.
Favorite Disney character?
At the moment, I’m going to go with Miguel from Coco. I love his story and drive and the culture in that film reminds me of my own Latin heritage and upbringing. Not to mention, the animation is stunning and maybe I cry every time I watch the film.
See Ben and the rest of the company of Disney’s ALADDIN on stage at Juanita K. Hammons Hall November 30-December 4. Tickets are available online, by calling 417-836-7678, or by visiting the Hammons Hall box office. See you at the show!