PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: The Genie of Broadway's Aladdin, James Monroe Iglehart

By Matthew Blank
18 Mar 2014

James Monroe Iglehart
James Monroe Iglehart
Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

James Monroe Iglehart, who stars as The Genie in Disney's new Broadway production of Aladdin, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Iglehart originated the role of Bobby in the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis and has been featured in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Broadway) and The Wiz (City Center).

He has appeared on "The Good Wife" and "The Electric Company" (Silent E Soloist) and is a member of the hip hop improv group Freestyle Love Supreme.



 Continued...

Full given name: James Monroe Iglehart
Where you were born/where you were raised: Hayward, California
Zodiac Sign:Virgo
What your parents did/do for a living: My mother is a retired high school choir teacher and currently plays for 3 different churches. My father is a business man.
Siblings:3 (2 brothers and a sister)
Current audition song/monologue: I love singing "Don't Take Much" from The Life, "Big Black Man" from Full Monty and "Me" from Beauty & The Beast
Special skills: I can freestyle rap. I am a member of the freestyle hip hop improv group Freestyle Love Supreme!
Something you're REALLY bad at: Basketball. It's embarrassing because I so wanted to play ball like my boys, but alas that is not my ministry.
You have strong roots in the Bay Area theatre scene. Can you credit any particular mentors or experiences with certain companies as your greatest early inspirations? I give major credit to 3 people Celestine Ranney-Howes and Dick & Kim Vetterli.

Celestine was the costume shop supervisor at my college Cal State Hayward University but became my mentor just in advice and the life lessons she taught me, all while sewing costumes at the same time. She helped me stay focused on my goals in college. If it wasn't for her I might have gone nuts ha!



Dick & Kim Vetterli gave me my first paid job (Ain't Misbehavin'). They also helped me learn the business of theatre in the "real" world. Their advice and encouragement made me the actor I am today.

The roles and companies that gave me early inspirations were the Preacher in Bat Boy at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, CA, and Teen Angel in Grease at American Musical Theatre of San Jose, Ca. These 2 roles made me feel like I could truly make it in NY if I gave it a shot. So glad I did!

And of course singing in church! That's where it all started!

First Broadway show you ever saw: Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk. It was glorious!
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? The two shows that come to mind are Dreamgirls and The Wiz! I would listen to those soundtracks religiously. I could only imagine the energy from the original casts live on a stage. I was obsessed with playing a James "Thunder" Early and the Lion. The Lion I finally got to do. Mr. Early has come and gone but I still love the show.
Current show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: I have been raving about Rocky the Musical. I have been a "Rocky" fanatic since my childhood. It was a thing between my father, my brother and I. So I was a little skeptical about a musical but then I saw it. Oh lord it was wonderful! I loved every second!
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: Wow! There are so many. I will try to be brief:

"Mean Ol Lion"- The Wiz (childhood fav)
"Big Ass Rock"- Full Monty (just damn funny)
"The Firing of Jimmy"- Dreamgirls (usually I act out the whole scene in my car!)
"Supper Time"- Little Shop of Horrors (role I would love to play now that I'm an adult)
"The Sadder but Wiser Girl"- The Music Man (truer words have never been written)
"Rose's Turn" (I just can't help myself!)

Just to name a few. There are soooo many more.

Some favorite modern musicals: Full Monty, In the Heights, The Producers, Jersey Boys, Ragtime, Parade
Some favorite classic musicals: Music Man, Sweeney Todd, Little Shop of Horrors, Assassins, The Wiz, Dreamgirls
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: I would love to perform with Sammy Davis Jr. and Ted Ross.
Your vocal idols, living or dead: I would have to say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, two singers: Chuck Cooper and Brian Stokes Mitchell.
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: I got to witness Brian Stokes Mitchell sing "Make Them Hear You" in Ragtime on Broadway. I was blown away.
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Gospel. Because I know how blessed I truly am!
MAC or PC? MAC
Most played song on your iPod: "Give Up the Funk" by Parliament Funkadelic probably. I'm a funkateer to my soul!
Most-visited websites: WWE.com and comicmovie.com
Favorite Tweeters: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Laurell K. Hamilton, Men's Humor and OMG facts
Last book you read: "Affliction" by Laurell K. Hamilton
Must-see TV show(s): "WWE Raw" and "Smackdown," "The Blacklist" and "Agents of Shield"
Last good movie you saw: "The Lego Movie"
Some films you consider classics: "Blazing Saddles," "Shawshank Redemption" and "Clue"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Bobby McFerrin
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Pro Wrestling
Three favorite cities: Anaheim, CA
Las Vegas, NV
Monterey, CA
Favorite sport/team/player: Don't really have one.
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: CD: Barbara Weathers' "Master Key"
Tape: LL Cool J's "Bad"
LP: Bootsy Collins' "Player of the Year"
First stage kiss: A Raisin in a the Sun. Her name was Showeshi Strickland.
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