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BWW Previews: LOCAL ACTRESS COMES HOME FOR HOLIDAYS AS ALADDIN SOARS INTO Straz Center For The Performing Arts

BWW Previews: LOCAL ACTRESS COMES HOME FOR HOLIDAYS AS ALADDIN SOARS INTO Straz Center For The Performing Arts
Photo by Deen van Deer

Something magical is flying into the Straz Center. Disney's Aladdin is landing its magic carpet at Morsani Hall on December 19, 2019 - January 5, 2020.

Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, under the direction of Thomas Schumacher, the show features seven-time Tony-winning scenic designer Bob Crowley, six-time Tony-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz, two-time Tony-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes, and sound designer Ken Travis, music by Tony Award and eight-time Oscar® winner Alan Menken, lyrics by two-time Oscar winner Howard Ashman, three-time Tony Award and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice and six-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin, with a book by Beguelin, and is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw.

Based on the Academy Award-winning 1992 animated film, Aladdin combines adventure, comedy, and romance, featuring a full score, with familiar songs and more written specifically for the stage adaption.

BWW Previews: LOCAL ACTRESS COMES HOME FOR HOLIDAYS AS ALADDIN SOARS INTO Straz Center For The Performing Arts
Carissa Fiorillo

Aladdin ensemble actress Carissa Fiorillo is especially excited to be returning to Tampa. Aladdin at the Straz means Christmas with the family that she hasn't seen since the beginning of the year. After graduating from River Ridge High School in New Port Richey, Carissa set her sights on the Big Apple, immediately moving to New York City to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy for musical theater with a goal of becoming a Rockette. She obtained her goal, even performing in the 2014 Radio City Christmas Spectacular as a Rockette at The Straz Center.

"From literally three years old I knew I wanted to be a Rockette, but then I found a love for musical theatre after dancing my dream job."

Carissa said that experiencing cities that she would never have visited without Aladdin and seeing the different types of audiences' reactions to the musical has been one of our favorite parts of being in the beloved production.

"It's a beautiful gift that we get to share this every single night. I'm so lucky I get to be a part of the show," she said. "Though we are working, we definitely get to experience what each city is about. I'm eager to come home."

Though Carissa is planning to play tour guide for her castmates, showing off the beach and her favorite local haunts, she also wants to spend a lot of quality time with her family.

In the production, her favorite scene is called high adventures where Aladdin's friends knock down the palace wall, in search of Aladdin.

"It's a scene with all the ensemble men and the three friends, with amazing singing, fight choreography, and it makes me laugh every single night. I'm not in that scene, but listening to the actors work their magic, that is definitely my favorite part of the musical."

Carissa said that to her the message of Aladdin was his goal to make his mother proud.

"Trying to find yourself, make your legacy, and do the right thing - that's what this show means to me."

She stressed that the show was for all ages, and worked especially well for a date night.

"It's a really good guy musical. There's amazing magic, choreography, special effects, and glitz and glam. I think everyone should come see it - from grandma and grandpa, your first date, to the little kids coming and dressing up like Jasmine. You can't look in the audience and not see a Princess Jasmine in the first fifteen rows. It brings tears to my eyes. It's so precious."

After experiencing Aladdin, Carissa hopes the audience will be talking about how live theatre made them feel.

"Seeing live theatre and escaping your day to day life for two and half hours, being thrilled by performers on stage, talking about the parts they loved and how the special effects and tap dancing made them feel, how everything made them feel and getting a chance to escape from the real world... That's what it's all about.

"Coming home feels like a holiday present. When I got the call that I was going to be joining the show and realized I would be home for the holidays, my mom was just over the moon, telling my whole entire family. She knows how excited my amazing, large Italian family is and how there will be so many people coming to support me. It's such a joy bringing Aladdin the musical to people who can't come to New York and see the show. Our wonderful creative team has done an incredible job translating Disney magic on to the stage. Bringing it to my hometown is the best holiday gift I could ask for."

Disney's Aladdin will play the Straz Center's Morsani Hall Dec. 19, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020. Performance times vary. Please check the event page for more information. Tickets may be purchased by calling 813.229.7827, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Sales Office or online at www.strazcenter.org.


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From This Author Deborah Bostock-Kelley