From starting as a swing in the cast to playing Princess Jasmine being in ALADDIN, the national touring company has opened up a whole new world for Lissa deGuzman. The tour’s magic carpet has just landed at the San Diego Civic Theatre and will be playing here through March 3rd and Lissa was able to chat about the importance of the swings in a show, why Jasmine is such a relatable Princess, and what the world looks like from that magic carpet.
Lissa started as a swing in the show, which is a role in the company who understudies several chorus and/or dancing roles. In the case of this show, female swings cover seven roles and men cover eleven different roles. What is it like learning and being ready to perform that many roles?
“The swing life is unlike any other life I have ever known. It was my first time and I’d say that swings are the MVP’s and the safety net of the company. They’re so amazing that they go unnoticed sometimes.
I’m so glad I started that way because I have an understanding of this show and a love for this show that is so deeply rooted. “
Now, Lissa has ascended into royalty playing Princess Jasmine 8 times a week. Which she says is equally exciting.
“As Jasmine I’m in the show every night which h is a big difference, but I love being the show every night and discovering new things every night. I was really excited to be Jasmine because I can discover so much more about her. She’s very smart, and forward thinking, and fearless. Her willingness not to settle; she refuses to settle and refuses to let other people make decisions for her; especially with something that she knows is right. I think that is an amazing quality about her.”
Jasmine isn’t the typical damsel in distress that people may think of when they think of fairy tales. She is smart, is independent, and refuses to be married off to just any prince, per the rules of Agrabah. This means Jasmine is relatable to lots of people, and has more interesting facets to explore.
“She is an important and strong woman for this day. She is a princess for all women; all different kind of women, and all different walks of life. She is romantic, and love is so important to her; her love for her Father, her kingdom, and her love for a romantic interest. But she also remains strong and doesn’t let that love deter her from discovering more. She always continues to grow and see more and learn more and defy the odds.”
Lissa also loves that ALADDIN and Agrabah is a family show that also brings a diverse cast to the stage.
“It’s really important and awesome about our cast is that we are a very diverse cast. I’m American and Filipino, and we have some many people from different areas and we have such a beautiful and diverse cast which I think it great for people to come and see.”
One of those people in the touring cast is her older brother Mathew deGuzman and that has been an equally fun experience on this tour.
“It’s so cool to be on this tour, and he had been a swing before and been in Broadway shows so he very much knew what he was doing. So I was grateful to have him to help guide me and answer some questions and learn from via him. I am spoiled rotten and I love having him on this tour. Most people get homesick or miss their families where they’re on tour but I have a piece of home with me on tour at all times.”
One thing that everyone knows Aladdin has in his bag of tricks to woo Princess Jasmine is that magic carpet. What is it like being on the carpet every performance?
“The magic carpet is just as magical riding it as it is seeing it. It feels a little different in each theater because sometimes where the lights are or the way the theatre is set up looking into the audience sometimes is darker than usual. Or sometimes the lights looks like stars, so it is a different experience in every theatre.”
Since the carpet flies over the audience I couldn’t help but wonder, at the audition did they ask if she was afraid of heights?
“They did not! “ She says with a laugh, “they did not.”
See Lissa, and the rest of the magical cast of ALADDIN at the San Diego Civic theatre through March 3rd. For showtime and ticket information go to www.BroadwaySD.com