The Broadway musical "Aladdin" may be best known for its memorable songs from the 1992 animated film, including "Friend Like Me," "A Whole New World" and "Prince Ali." But the beautifully choreographed dance numbers - they're what will catch your eye.
Denver native Celina Nightengale will make her debut on the Buell Theatre stage at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday as part of the ensemble for the North American Tour of Disney's "Aladdin," which runs through April 28.
Nightengale, a graduate of Lutheran High School, earned a communications and marketing degree at the University of Denver before pursuing professional dance. She helped to found DU's dance team and was on the Colorado Mammoth Wild Bunch dance team while in college. She's been performing with "Aladdin's" tour since it kicked off in Chicago last fall.
She's on stage for much of the two-hour, 25-minute show. "The ensemble just doesn't stop. When you think of Broadway, you think of a show like this. There's all types of dancing. Our choreographer, Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw, did his research," she said from the tour's previous stop in Los Angeles. "I think the audience in Denver will be blown away."
Earlier, the New York City resident was in "Rock of Ages Las Vegas."
"If you love being on stage and you love what you do like I do, it's just really cool to bring what you love to the audience every single show.
If you can make people smile for the night, it's a job well done," she said.
Being able to spend seven months in Chicago, three in L.A. and smaller chunks of time in other cities, including about a month in Denver, has been exciting, she said. Denver has the bonus of being a homecoming: She'll stay with her grandparents and her mom.
"This will be my grandparents' first time seeing the show, and I did splurge on their tickets. I'm excited for them just to be there. They paid for all my dance classes growing up," Nightengale said, noting that tap is her preferred dance genre.
The "Aladdin" choreography has all kinds of dance, performed by the ensemble of 10 female and 20 male dancers. Nightengale has at least six wardrobe changes, with each vibrantly hued, Swarovski crystal-bedecked costume designed by two-time Tony Award winner Gregg Barnes.
The acting, singing, colorful sets and costumes and, of course, the dancing, make the show fun for kids and adults alike.
"People hear Disney and they hear 'Aladdin,' and they think this is a great kids movie. But it brings a very adult romance, actually, to the stage. I've not heard one person say, 'It wasn't for me,'" Nightengale said. "And the guys love it. What guy didn't sing 'A Whole New World' to his girlfriend in high school? It's just a lot of fun. Come see the show! I hope I see everyone I know at the show."
MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, 476-1602, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM