Sheffielder Matthew Croke feels like the genie has granted him all three wishes at once as he has just made his West End debut in a leading role in Disney’s Aladdin.
The young singer, actor and dancer was a big fan of the cartoon as a youngster and dreamed he would one day play the character on stage.
Matthew said: “The show is based on the Disney film. You have all the favourite songs you know and love plus so much more.
“There’s different characters and songs that weren’t in the film that they created for the musical specifically, as well as everyone you know and love about the film.
“It’s crazy, I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
He added: “The best thing is when I was a kid when the film first came out, I was obsessed by it and absolutely loved it.
“I genuinely did want to play Aladdin some day. When I went to performing, singing and acting schools, I always dreamed about one day making Aladdin into a musical and thought I could be him.”
Matthew has gone down a storm in his first weeks in the role that he won from auditions that involved hundreds of actors and many recalls until he finally landed the part.
“What I love about performing this character is you’re not only acting, you’re singing all those amazing songs and I get to use my dancing as well.”
He said: “I’m in a tough industry. I’ve still got loads of things going on in Sheffield that make it a lot easier in regards to earning some money and all of a sudden this happens.”
Matthew, who went to Ecclesfield School and grew up in that area before his family moved to Ecclesall Road, set up RMC Academy of Theatre Performance on Chapman Street near Meadowhall with his sister, Rachel.
He first got interested in dancing when he watched Rachel and wanted to join in. She also had a career in musical theatre before deciding her passion was teaching.
Matthew comes back to work at the school as much as possible, even now when his role means he’s working six days out of seven.
He hopes that his story will help to inspire other youngsters that theatre can be more than just an enjoyable hobby, it can be the route to a successful career.
Matthew is very grateful for all the teachers who inspired him as a boy, including dance teacher Maureen Law.
She provided all the dancers for Manor Operatic shows, so that led Matthew to appear in all their productions from the age of nine to 16, when he left Sheffield to go to Laine Theatre Arts in London.
He said: “I feel very attached to Manor because I was in all of those productions. They gave me so much to work towards.”
He said that the late Brian Platts from Manor was a another great mentor who encouraged him a lot.
Matthew was happy to give the Manor cast of Singin’ in the Rain the benefit of his experience because he understudied and performed the lead role of Don Lockwood on stage in the West End.
He also saw the show at the City Hall and was impressed.
So what’s the next dream for Matthew?
He said: “When you get to a certain stage, you always look and think what you’re looking to enjoy next.
“I’d love to go into film and TV.”
If anyone can do it, Matthew can.
Prince Edward Theatre, London
Box office: Aladdin the musical