Sheffield actor Matthew Croke celebrates his magical journey as West End Aladdin in new show This Is Home
Time has flown like a magic carpet ride for Sheffielder Matthew Croke, who has just taken his final bow on the West End stage as Aladdin.
Matthew took on the coveted lead role in the stage adaptation of the Disney musical two-and-a-half years ago. He said: “I joined the second cast of Aladdin in London and stayed until the very end. Now it’s closing.
“In total I was doing eight shows a week for two-and-a-half years.”
He added: “It’s gone so quick. Time flies by when you’re having fun.”
The hugely successful musical closed on August 24 and will be replaced this autumn by a new production, Mary Poppins.
Matthew, who grew up in Eccesfield and the Ecclesall Road area, was thrilled to step up to a lead role that he could make his own after appearing as understudy in shows such as Wicked, Singin’ In The Rain and West Side Story.
The 32-year-old said: “It was a very long journey but an exciting one.
“I felt like the luckiest guy every night on that flying carpet.”
Of course, you don’t land that sort of role by rubbing a magic lamp and summoning a genie.
“I worked really hard and wanted to get a role of my own. Them I got offered Aladdin in 2017 and it was as if all my Christmases had come at once.”
He got a great response from fans at the stage door and on social media, as well as proud family and friends who went to see him.
“I was receiving messages from audience members, saying how much they enjoyed me performing their favourite Disney character.”
As a little boy in Sheffield, Matthew ran home from school to w atch the TV series and said that he dreamed of playing his hero on stage.
Matthew said that he has been to meet casting directors in Los Angeles and has plans for exciting next steps but for now he’s happy to be back in his home city to appear on stage at Rotherham Civic on September 14.
He is producing and starring in This is Home, a show where Matthew looks back at his career so far and performs hits from some of the musicals he has appeared in.
He appears alongside fellow West End performers and members of his performing arts school.
Matthew set up RMC Academy of Theatre Performance on Chapman Street near Meadowhall with his sister Rachel three years ago.
She first inspired him to go to dance classes when he watched her learning and is in awe of how much she has achieved with the academy.
Matthew will be joined by West End performers including Luke Bayer from the London cast of Sheffield-created hit Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Joseph Connor, a finalist in the BBC show All Together Now .
Matthew, who did his early training with Maureen Law and appeared in Manor Operatic shows as a boy, will appear alongside one of his mentors from the group, Simon Hance. Simon is performing a song, Bedtime Story, with a talented youngster, Samuel Berry, aged 10.
He’s convinced that another of his academy pupils, Chloe Ellen, is a future star in the making.
The show also takes Matthew back to where it all began, as a five-year-old with the Maureen Law school. The very first stage he stepped on was at Rotherham Civic.