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Akron native, BW grad takes on larger than life role as 'Genie' in Disney's Aladdin at Playhouse Square

Posted at 7:24 AM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-09 07:30:54-05

CLEVELAND — Get ready to dust off that magic carpet and prepare to enter a "Whole New World!"

Disney's beloved Aladdin makes a triumphant return to the Connor Palace Theatre this week.

The limited-run musical features some serious home-grown star power.

Marcus M. Martin is sliding into those gigantic gold Genie shoes and hoping to take you on a ride you'll never forget.

He says there is no place better to do it—than right here in Cleveland.

It's been a pinch-me moment all week long for the Akron native.

Martin says he is ready to put on for the city that shaped him as a performer and a person.

"This community, Northeast Ohio is where I dreamed of living a life that I'm now living. So, to get to bring it home and share it with the people that are a part of my journey it means so much to me," Martin said.

Sporting his best blue suit for his News 5 debut, Martin will swap it out for something *SLIGHTLY* more eye-popping—when he takes on the larger-than-life, dream role of "Genie" in Disney's Aladdin.

It comes from the producer of The Lion King.

Dubbed a "breathtaking spectacle"—the production is filled with beauty, magic, and comedy that Martin says has a true "Genie Blue" generational reach.

"You have parents that grew up with the 1992 film that are now bringing their kids that saw the live-action remake, and they're excited cause they saw that version," Martin said.

The entire experience is surreal, and a dream come true for the Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts and Copley High School graduate.

For his 13th birthday—his mom actually bought him a Playhouse Square season subscription to the Broadway Series.

Falling in love with every facet of theatre—he would renew it year after year.

"We would come to this very theatre and see all of the shows and we would talk about them, and I would dream about being a part of it," Martin said.

The dream is now a reality.

"This lobby brings me back to begging my mom to buy me a t-shirt for whatever show was here, and I really loved the show. This is typically where they keep the merch."

Martin expects his family to be the reason they sell out of Aladdin t-shirts during the run of the show.

He credits his loved ones, faith, and Baldwin Wallace University for helping catapult him to stardom.

His fellow alumni Nyla Watson performed in Hadestown and Warren Egypt Franklin starred in Hamilton just a few weeks ago.

"We're seeing the results of what's happening. Something special is going on in Berea, Ohio. It's an honor to be a part of that legacy and have my name added to the list!" Martin said.

The local star power continues with Kent State University graduate and Cleveland native Cody Hernandez set to perform as "Jafar" Friday night.

Disney's Aladdin runs through Sunday.