Interview: Conductor and Music Director James Dodgson brings Music and Magic in 'Aladdin'

Playing at Broadway San Diego April 3rd - 7th

By: Apr. 01, 2024
Interview: Conductor and Music Director James Dodgson brings Music and Magic in 'Aladdin'
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Interview: Conductor and Music Director James Dodgson brings Music and Magic in 'Aladdin' Prince Ali is coming into town and bringing his finest performers, singers, dancers, and all (not sure about the 75 golden camels or 53 purple peacocks though).  While Aladdin sings and dances his way into the hearts of the audience and the citizens of Agrabah alike,  James Dodgson  is in charge of keeping the music going as the tour’s music director and conductor. He gives us a behind the magic carpet glance at what it’s like being on the ALADDIN tour and bringing the magic of Disney to San Diego at the Civic Theatre through Broadway San Diego April 3rd - April 7th.

From the West End to Broadway and across the nation, James Dodgson has helped bring beloved Disney musicals to audiences all over the world including fan favorites like “The Lion King”, “Mary Poppins”, Newsies”, Beauty and the Beast”, and more. 

Interview: Conductor and Music Director James Dodgson brings Music and Magic in 'Aladdin'

James is currently the music director and the conductor for the national tour of ALADDIN, a show he has also conducted on Broadway.  Along with conducting the show every night in front of a live audience, he is also the music director, which means he is in charge of the entire musical process from auditions and rehearsals to performances - doing all of the administration and groundwork to keep everyone on track for the live performance.

“The music director part is looking after every musical aspect of this, of the tool. So that can involve, you know, right at the very beginning when we're setting up the production, I would be involved in the casting which can take quite a while. You have your first round of the audition or first few rounds of auditions when you hopefully find most of the cast, but it can go on.

Then I start hiring the orchestra, rehearsing the cast, teaching them the music, and working with the director and the choreographer.  Then it's just the kind of day-to-day maintaining the show.”

His favorite part is conducting and bringing this music to life in front of the audience for every show.

“The conducting, which for me is the best bit because you can just immerse yourself and be in the world of the show. That’s the best part because I like to perform.”

Having worked on a variety of Disney musicals, James says that he loves being a part of ALADDIN since the music is by the amazingly talented Alan Menken.  Along with the lyrics by Tim Rice, Dodgson says that Menken music is always a pleasure to perform and for the audience to enjoy and is similar in vein to Disney legend composers Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman who wrote “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and more.

Alan Menken shows are just so rich musically. He is following on from The Sherman Brothers in the Disney musical canon and he's a genius, he has such a great gift and melody.  Musically, they're always just fantastic.

He has a specific songwriting style, which is a traditional songwriting style carrying on the tradition of The Sherman Brothers. One of Menken’s gifts is creating a melody that everybody can remember. Even though people might not know who our Menken is, the chances are they know one of his songs from somewhere.”

While the live performance of ALADDIN does have the songs audiences may know, it also has additional songs incorporated into the live musical to give greater depth to all the characters, including Aladdin. 

“Proud of Your Boy” Is one of the big numbers in the show for Aladdin,  It was actually written for the original animated feature, but it didn't make it in and they have gone back to it and it's one of his most famous songs. 

The characterization for the musical was that they made the Genie, kind of 1920s Fats Waller type character because when they wrote the film Alan Menken was very keen to write a jazzy, sort of big, swingy score, which they've expanded on for the musical and dug into that quite a lot. So the Hollywood score is rooted in Harlem, Jazz, and the Cotton Club.

Obviously, “Friend Like Me” which is the big production number in the middle of, well, towards the end of act one, people go wild. The other night the applause went on for a good few minutes and got a standing evaluation.”
 

Interview: Conductor and Music Director James Dodgson brings Music and Magic in 'Aladdin'

James is the first to tell you he has the best seat in the house to appreciate the show and the audience at each performance.

“I'm lucky, as far as I'm in the orchestra conducting the show, so I'm right in front of the audience. For this show you can feel the audience’s  excitement and that they've been lifted and had a fun night out.”

How To Get Tickets

ALADDIN presented by Broadway San Diego is playing at the Civic Theatre from April 3rd - April 7th.  For ticket and show time information go to www.broadwaysd.com 

Photo Credit: James Dodgson, Disney’s  ALADDIN




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