Michael James Scott Talks About His New Christmas Album, His Upcoming Concert in Orlando, and Playing the Genie on Broadway

Orlando native Michael James Scott may be known for playing the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway but his career has been vast. He originated the role of The Minstrel in Something Rotten as well as Dr. Gotswana in The Book of Mormon. His other Broadway credits include Mamma Mia, Tarzan, All Shook Up, The Pirate Queen, Elf, and Hair.

When you’ve done it all on Broadway, the next step is clearly a Christmas album, which is exactly what he is doing! We were given the opportunity to talk to him about his time as the Genie, his new album, A Fierce Christmas, and the album’s launch concert happening at The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in his hometown of Orlando, Florida on December 19th. Here is our conversation with the incredibly talented Michael James Scott.

Laughing Place: I know we all need a little Christmas spirit this year, but can you share a little bit about why you decided to create a Christmas album?

Michael James Scott: A little Christmas spirit? We need literally mountains and literally pickup truck loads of Christmas spirit. Good lord, oh my gosh. I wanted to do this because this has been quite a year, to say the least. A lot of actors, they may practice giving speeches, they may practice Oscars speeches, I've been practicing my holiday album since I was a little boy. That is what's been going on, that is what's up. I knew I wanted to do it, it never was the right timing for me, it all didn't seem quite right.

But, from the pandemic, the timing seemed quite right, which is so crazy, but this time of year, it means so much to me. This year there's been a racial awakening that's happening, we're still fighting for equality and diversity, and inclusivity, while in the middle of a pandemic. My answer to all of that was protesting with joy, so that's what I'm trying to do. I decided to protest all of it with joy, to show a chocolate face who is smiling, a chocolate face who is joyful. We have two societies right now, and what I know that can bring us together is fierce holiday music.

Laughing Place: Yeah, that's a good point, we've been focused so much on what separates us, and that's obviously a needed conversation, but sometimes we forget to focus on what unites us. You're a fan favorite Genie from Disney's Aladdin musical, can you talk a little bit about what that role means to you? Aladdin is an iconic film, and the Genie is an iconic character. But you really found a way to take that role and build upon what, James Monroe Iglehart, and the ones before you created. Can you talk a little bit about your experience as Genie?

Michael James Scott: Yes, absolutely. I mean, my little Genie journey as I call it, has been quite an unbelievable, exciting, and once in a lifetime journey. Listen, I'm a Disney kid, I'm from Orlando, Florida. I am a full-on Disney kid, I grew up going to the park, I grew up performing at the park, and so for this, to take on the iconic role of Genie, it's still an unbelievable dream come true, truly. The Genie was never on my radar, it was never really on my radar, and I didn't even think of myself as the Genie. There comes a time where there are people who believe in you, even when you don't believe in yourself. Truly this came out of that happening, and the crazy thing is that I never thought that I would connect as much to this character.

I mean, It's gone so deep in terms of what this role means for me, but the Genie unapologetically himself. That has been the most incredible lesson of this whole Genie journey. The idea of not apologizing for who we are, the fact is I am a big personality and have always been because I was a little chocolate covered kid running around Orlando, Florida, singing and dancing. I don't have to apologize for that. I'm not apologizing for it, and that's what's been so successful about that role for me is this idea of being unapologetically you. I love that the Genie embodies that. People respond to that, and it's an honor to fill those shoes. The team gave me the freedom to be me, they wanted me to be me in the role. I took that and ran many miles with it. When somebody says it, I'm like, "Okay, fantastic, here we go." That's what it means for me.

Laughing Place: As an Orlando native, you get to come home and really be one of the first performers to bring arts back to Central Florida with the Frontyard Festival™ at The Dr. Phillips Center. As an Orlando native, does that hit home for you, the significance of your return?

Michael James Scott: First of all, I am so proud and so honored to be from a community that is ahead of bringing live entertainment back. It's unbelievable what they've been able to do at The Dr. Phillips Center, and the team there, and how they've been able to manage to bring this, provide this. It’s presented by AdventHealth, so we're talking about a safe way to bring back live entertainment, where people can sit in their socially distanced box, and you can still look at this gigantic stage full of people who are socially distanced.

There are screens, and you can feel safe, and feel the love of what it feels like to be in a live entertainment atmosphere again. That's exciting, and I am so honored that I get to be part of the headliner for it. I'm really bookending this year because I was here in January playing the Genie at The Dr. Phillips Center and now I'm coming back to end this year with some chocolate joy, that's what I'm trying to do, and that's what I want to do. That is what I'm fighting to do, to bring us joy. I couldn't be more thrilled to do it in Orlando, where I am from.

Laughing Place: Just to wrap up, we're so excited to have you in Orlando and bringing the bomb we need, but do you have a favorite Orlando memory?

Michael James Scott: Oh gosh, I think one of my favorite Orlando memories, I used to sing when I was a little kid with an a cappella group. I have such good memories doing that, we were dressed in Charles Dickens' costumes, and singing amazing, old school, renditions of classic Christmas tunes. I just love that so much, I have the fondest memories during the holiday of doing that. I did that for a number of years growing up as a kid, and it's just a beautiful memory to have. I'm channeling all of it during the holidays because I love it so much, that nostalgia of comfort and joy. That's what I'm trying to channel in this concert to be able to bring Broadway, big band, gospel songs, all of that to The Dr. Phillips Center with a 16 person socially distanced choir, a 10 person band, three backup singers, all together, one night, where we get to do this for this community I hold so near and dear to my heart.

Make sure to listen to Michael James Scott’s Christmas album, A Fierce Christmas, and get tickets for his December 19th concert at The Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando, FL here.