One Jump Ahead – Aladdin’s Ainsley Melham on playing the lead role at Capitol Theatre

Newcomer into the theatre world Ainsley Melham has had a whirlwind time in theatre lately. After staring in Hayes Theatre Co’s production of Xanadu, he grabs the Aladdin lead role currently playing at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre.

Ainsley was kind enough to answer a few questions for us after we had chats with both Genie, Michael James Scott and Jasmine, who was played by Arielle Jacobs.

What can you tell us about the audition process that got you the role?

Like any show, the audition process was a lengthy one. Several rounds in the audition room, singing, dancing and reading script. As it got closer to the end, there were few of us left, until the final day when a handful of us gave it one last shot for the chance to be Aladdin.

What do you think set you apart from the others who wanted to take on the iconic role?

Honestly, I am so lucky to be given the chance to play Aladdin. Everyone who walked into that audition room had talent for days. Sometimes it comes down to the right place at the right time. I am just very glad that they saw in me the potential to take on the role.

The outfits are pretty fantastic – and, one might say… revealing. Do you have a favourite of the show?

I love the yellow costume worn by the gypsy woman in Prince Ali. It’s by far the most extravagant in the show. It has shoulders for days and a head piece to match. It’s hard to describe, I think you need to witness it to understand.

Given the revealing costumes, everyone has abs! Do you all have an ab blast set that you do together?

As a company we get together everyday to warm up before the show, which usually involves some form of core work. We also have pretty tough regimes outside of work to maintain the aesthetic for the show.

Apart from your own, who is your favourite character in the show?

My favourite character is Iago. I loved the back talking parrot on screen, and to see someone as talented as Aljin Abella embody the role onstage is a joy. He is so clever and every moment makes me laugh.

The technical detail behind this show is extraordinary – from quick on stage costume changes to pyrotechnics and one of the biggest stage numbers of all time in “Friend Like Me”. Is there anything in that number, or in the show in general that is particularly difficult as a performer?

There are many technical elements in the show, particularly when playing Aladdin that you have to take responsibility for. It becomes like choreography, every movement has to be the same each night so that the show runs smoothly. So it’s not so much about difficulty but more about being consistent every night.

What’s your earliest memory of the iconic Disney film?

I definitely remember watching Aladdin as a kid. We even had a video game on the computer where you had to advance through the different levels of Agrabah to save the princess.

Tell us a little bit about what it’s like working with Arielle (Jasmine) almost every night?

Arielle is a class act! She is so very talented and it’s such an honour to share the stage with her each night! She is the real life Princess Jasmine. She is stunning and it makes my job to fall in love with her each night a dream.

What do you hope people take away from their experience at the show?

I hope that people leave the show with a big smile on their face! Aladdin is an opportunity for audiences to escape for a couple of hours from the world around them.

I hope they leave humming the tunes and reminiscing about their childhood.

Aladdin is currently enjoying performances at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, where it will play until November 20, 2016. For tickets and more details head HERE.

Photo Credit: Deen van Meer


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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

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