Major Attaway's Bolstering Performance at 54 Below (NYC)
Last night, Major Attaway put on an incredible show at 54 Below, right here in New York City. Major Attaway has left his mark already in the entertainment industry, with appearances in Psycho-Pass, Even Mice Belong In Heaven, Borderlands, Space Dandy, Dragon Ball Z video games, and Orange is the New Black. Most recently, he’s been critically-acclaimed for his role as the Genie, in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway. He has been the play’s longest-running Genie, and now presents a new, more mischievous version of that character. While the Alladin’s Genie was a bit more naive and gregarious, the Genie Major Attaway performed tonight was a bit more suave, as indicated by the smooth-jazz intro he walked out to. He elaborated more during the show, saying he wanted to emulate a more villainous character. With the genie now out of the bottle, he is able to put his own spin on the character, and he does so in a jazz-riddled performance.
The show itself was very personal, and they even had a segment involving the crowd. Korie Lee Blossey would walk around the venue, giving viewers a chance to participate in the show. He’d ask the audience questions, and relay them back to Major when necessary, or make people laugh on his own. Major Attaway also constantly made eye-contact with crowd-members, as well as adding in his own bodily animations, to connect to the audience more. Attaway and Lee Blossey did a tremendous job together, flowing seamlessly off of their strengths. While Attaway has a charismatic stage presence enough, Blossey definitely brings out the best in him, and their presence makes both of them a stronger performer. Blossey would chime in with stories, letting Attaway know he missed parts, and the two would be cracking up before telling the rest of it. These types of engagement are extremely natural, and show a personal side of these performers that makes the audience enjoy them even more. Here’s some more evidence of how the two star Genie’s bring out the best in each other: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkp8HPvAsz0
Attaway has a bolstering, baritone-like voice that echoed throughout the venue. His broadway spirit also gave him an energy that was contagious, and felt by the audience throughout the night. His animated spirit also helped connect the audience, through his hand motions and facial expressions. I asked Major Attaway after the performance, about how he encapsulates such an animated persona on stage. “I kind of see my whole body as a vessel,” he elaborated. “If a heightened version of me is needed then I just let it happen naturally. I try to give the current circumstances of the story and that song and then push myself to the boundaries.”
As for being the first Genie, and the longest-running cast member of that character, Major Attaway had some inspirational thoughts, as being not only someone who African-Americans can look up to, but someone who people of any background can look up to. “I look at the Genie the same way I look at Spiderman. Underneath the mask, or as the Genie was, underneath that blue, he could’ve been absolutely anybody. I ask this question to myself a lot: Who was the Genie before he got his powers? Whoever that person was, could’ve been any one of us. I think that makes him relatable to a lot of people.”
The evil version of the Genie was a massive success last night, and the crowd loved every second of it. Directed by August Hass, Major Attaway, featuring Korie Lee Blossey, was a top-tier show that was personal, as well as extremely enjoyable and entertaining.