Broadway honored the late Robin Williams in more ways than one this week. On Wednesday, Aug. 13, the famed marquee lights of NYC's Great White Way were dimmed for one minute at 7:45 p.m. ET. The previous evening, the cast of Broadway's Aladdin paid tribute to the actor, who starred as Genie in the 1992 Disney movie.
James Monroe Iglehart, who won a Tony Award for his performance as Genie in the hit Broadway adaptation of the flick, appeared onstage after the curtains closed, and led his fellow actors and the audience at the New Amsterdam Theatre in a version of "Friend Like Me." As seen in video footage from the Associated Press, that evening's Playbill had included the song's lyrics and the crowd was encouraged to sing along with Iglehart.
"When I was 17 years old, I had watched every Disney cartoon in the world," Iglehart told audience members. "And they had put [Williams] in a Disney cartoon to play this iconic role of the Genie… and he sang ["Friend Like Me"], and I looked at my mom and I said, 'If I could just do something like that.'"
Williams starred in the Disney's animated version as the lovable, scene-stealing giant, who was ultimately freed from the confinements of his magic lamp by Aladdin. The film won two Oscars in 1993 for Original Song and Original Score. It also won five Grammys and two Golden Globes.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, former chair of Walt Disney Studios, praised Williams earlier this week for delivering "one of the most brilliant and singular performances in the history of animation." He added, "That moment in which he introduced himself to the audience was purely of his imagination. For me, it was one of the most breathtaking, pure moments of creativity I think I have ever witnessed. Aladdin would not be the classic movie it is without his brilliance."
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences remembered the actor with a moving Twitter post on Monday, including a still from the film of Genie embracing Aladdin. It read, "Genie, you're free."
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