AINSLEY MELHAM has had a magical ride since graduating from WAAPA in 2012, so it’s no surprise he’ll be flying a magic carpet in Disney’s stage production of Aladdin.
His first big break was when landed a role in the kids pop group Hi-5, where his boyish good looks and powerful voice made him a fans’ favorite for three years.
“It was a wonderful experience,” he says.
“It was a boot camp for performers: we travelled the world and performed on stage and on TV.”
Back in Australia, Melham skated into the role of Sonny Malone in the stage production of Xanadu in 2016, and the last song had barely faded when he was gearing up for Aladdin.
He was in town this week to promote the glittering, all-singing, all-dancing musical, which is on at Perth Crown Theatre in July.
The stage production is based on the 1992 movie, which was released a year after Melham was born.
“I grew up watching that movie,” he says. “Getting to play Aladdin is quite nostalgic—a pinch myself moment.”
Melham reckons he was “lucky” to land the plum role, but hard work played its part and he did five auditions in two months.
“You work hard to hone your craft, but at the end of the day there is an element of ‘does he look right, is he the right height’,” he says.
Aladdin is set in the Middle East and Disney has been accused of “white-washing” the tale by crowbarring a “white” character into the 1992 remake.
But with a Lebanese father and Italian mother, Melham is perfect for Aladdin.
“It’s where my dark curly hair comes from,” he says with a smile.
The 26 year old hails from the eastern states, where his high school drama teacher helped him audition for WAAPA.
“She said if you want to do performance theatre, this is the one place to go. Luckily I was accepted.”
Aladdin opened in Sydney last August and with eight shows a week it’s been a hard slog, but the thrill never dims, Melham says.
“It’s very physical, but when you step out on the stage to 1600 people it’s electrifying.”
And the audible gasp when Aladdin and Princess Jasmine soar across the stage on the magic carpet is unbeatable, Melham says.
by JENNY D’ANGER