|Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Before becoming a celebrated director and choreographer — Aladdin marks his sixth Broadway credit at the helm (not to mention the sole choreography of Spamalot and direction of To Be Or Not to Be) — "I was always a really poor kid," Nicholaw confessed. In the 1980s, the West Coast native made his way to New York City and began to pound the pavement as a performer.
"I literally had no money in the city, I couldn't get work, and I was dressing as a clown," he recalled with a laugh. "I remember… I flew to Chicago for $200 for the weekend to do what they called a 'shazam' — it's like dancing at a bar mitzvah. When I got there — I [recently] got a new answering machine, and I wanted to check it — it turned out I had a callback for Crazy for You for a dancer, and they [said], 'Come back. You need to be back here tomorrow, and rehearsals start in a week. We lost someone; we moved someone up.'"
With Broadway on the brain, Nicholaw quit his clown job ("They said, 'You'll never work for us again!'") and rushed to the airport. He was determined to make the callback for the George and Ira Gershwin musical, which would open in February 1992 at the Shubert. The only problem was — lacking payment from his clown gig — Nicholaw had no money.
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