Dionne Christian is the NZ Herald’s arts and books editor

It's a whole new world for actor George Henare

George Henare glitters in Aladdin. Photo / Deen van Meer
George Henare glitters in Aladdin. Photo / Deen van Meer

The toughest thing to get used to about being in a long-running musical is the job security, says New Zealand actor George Henare.

Six months after he upped sticks and moved to Sydney to play the Sultan in the stage adaptation of Disney blockbuster Aladdin, Henare said it has taken time to adjust to the fact he's no longer performing at night and, by day, preparing for his next role.

"It seemed very odd not to be reading scripts, doing auditions and getting ready for the next thing," he said.

"I told myself I just had to slow down and accept the change. I think the most important thing I've learned is how to work in a Broadway-style show."

Henare, a veteran of New Zealand stage and screen, surprised family and friends by announcing last year that he was joining the cast of Aladdin and moving to Australia.

Since the show opened in August, the 71-year-old hasn't missed a performance.
The multi-million dollar production plays eight times a week and shows no signs of slowing down before a planned transfer to Melbourne.

"It's still packing them in," Henare said.

"My understudy keeps asking when I'm going to take a day off but I haven't felt the need to.

"I enjoy seeing the reactions from the different audiences who all seem to love the show.
"And the people I'm working with are wonderful, lovely people."

With an all-singing and dancing cast, lavish sets and dazzling costumes, the musical is a glittering spectacle.

Henare's family, who came to see the show shortly after it opened, were enchanted to see him don jewel-encrusted robes to play Princess Jasmine's father.

"They kept saying how much my costume sparkled, but I noted they didn't say anything about my performance!"

* Dionne Christian travelled to Sydney to see Aladdin thanks to Destination New South Wales, Sydney Arts Festival and Auckland Arts Festival.

- Herald on Sunday

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