Major Attaway is truly magical; he has granted his own wish. The Fort Worth native will begin playing the role of Genie in the Broadway company of Aladdin full-time on February 21, 2017.
Attaway moved to New York to become the Genie standby in January 2016. "This role has been in my bones for most of my life – literally," Attaway said.
As an adolescent, Attaway suffered from Blount’s disease, a growth disorder of the shin bone. He remembers wearing out several copies of the VHS tape of Aladdin, singing along with the now-classic Disney movie, and even videoing himself wearing a leg brace while singing “A Friend Like Me” at age 13.
His mother often tells a story about Attaway’s determination as he faced surgery. “When I was lying in bed, waiting for surgery and the anesthesia was taking over, I said I was scared, but I have to do this so I can be on Broadway,” Attaway said.
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The North Texas arts scene became Attaway’s training ground as he honed his skills. In addition to performing roles at Dallas Theater Center, Theatre Three, WaterTower Theatre, Jubilee Theatre, and Casa Mañana, he was also a soloist with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, did voiceover work for commercials and video games, and appeared in the feature film Carter High.
The variety of work prepared him for the demands of Broadway work. “Everything I do comes out of Texas. It’s a testament to regional theater. For everyone who put Broadway on a pedestal and thinks it is out of reach, it isn’t,” Attaway said.
He encourages actors aiming to work on Broadway to take advantage of the artistic opportunities in North Texas. “Texas has all of the necessary tools to train an actor,” Attaway said.
His Broadway experience has taught him that every level of theater is important. While the costumes and sets on Broadway may be more elaborate, an actor’s job is the same on every stage. “At the root of it, we are storytellers. I was always focused on being a better storyteller,” Attaway said.
Attaway counts himself fortunate to work with James Monroe Iglehart, the actor who originated the role of Genie and won a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for his work. “He’s been a brother to me. He has put his trust in me to hold up the integrity of the role, but make it my own. He has taught me so much about professionalism and leading a show. It means the world to me to have his support,” Attaway said.
Iglehart will perform his final Aladdin performance on February 19 and will join the Broadway company of Hamilton in mid-April, playing the dual roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson.
Although Attaway misses Texas’ wide open spaces, barbeque, authentic Mexican food, and cleaner, less fragrant air, he is savoring the opportunity to work towards making his creative dreams a reality in New York.
“Now that I’m working in a Broadway show, all of the work I’ve ever wanted to try is accessible,” Attaway explains. He is excited to meet and talk to people he has been a fan of since he was kid, but he is surprised when he realizes they recognize him.
When he watches Netflix, he recognizes New York actors he counts as friends. Although he has lived in New York for a year, many things are still exciting to him and he brings a different energy and a fresh perspective to his Broadway adventures.
Long before Attaway joined the company of Aladdin, his girlfriend gave him a poster of Iglehart in Attaway’s dream role. It is signed, “To Major - May all of your wishes come true.”
Attaway will hang the poster in his dressing room when he takes over the role of Genie, knowing that one of his greatest wishes has been granted.
Kimberly Richard is a North Texan with a passion for the arts. She’s worked with Theatre Three, Inc. and interned for the English National Opera and Royal Shakespeare Company. She graduated from Austin College and currently lives in Garland with her very pampered cocker spaniel, Tessa.