The genie will see you now.
Anthony Murphy welcomes a visitor to his dressing room at Minneapolis’ Orpheum Theatre with a soft smile and a quiet voice, his magic lamp perched conspicuously on the dresser. Ordinarily he would be more effusive, but he has to save his voice and energy.
Eight times a week, Murphy plays the granter of wishes in the Broadway tour of “Disney’s Aladdin,” helping transform a thieving street urchin into a regal prince. Each time his performance brings down the house on the pull-out-all-the-stops number “Friend Like Me,” a breathless sequence in which he tap-dances, performs magic tricks and changes costumes.
To hear him tell it, he had a little magical intervention as a kid.
As a first-grader in his native St. Petersburg, Fla., Murphy, now 26, was a disruptive child. The teachers did not know what to do with him.
“They wanted to put me on medication,” he said. “My parents were like, ‘No. We’re going to go a different route.’ ”
His mother, who is a singer, and father, a music engineer who ran an after-school arts program, enrolled Murphy in a performing arts school, Perkins Elementary.
“It changed my life,” he said, giddy at the memory. “I was in my element doing shows. I was excelling. All my classes were great. My teachers now wanted me to be in gifted programs.”
He had found his calling. And he followed it through middle school and high school. But when time came for college, Murphy hit a roadblock. He applied to a raft of schools, but didn’t get into any of his top choices. So he stayed home for a year, helping out his father and doing odd jobs. Then through a friend, he learned about Otterbein University, a small, private liberal arts school in Westerville, Ohio.
“I fell in love with that place,” he said. “I studied choreography and directing there. I got to design my own major. Great preparation for this type of life.”
He ended up leaving in his senior year, though. “I basically ran out of money. My teachers were like, ‘We’ve taught you all we can, and you’re ready.’ ”
After living in St. Pete for a spell, auditioning and working, he made the leap to New York, “sleeping on a friend’s couch while doing odd jobs and auditioning — you know, the actor’s life.”
He wondered if he’d have to give up on his dream. But actor friend Ariel Jacobs, who was playing Jasmine in the Australian production of “Aladdin” and whose brother, Adam Jacobs, plays the title character in this tour, knew that auditions for a national tour were coming up. She suggested that Murphy try out.
He couldn’t get away from work, so she asked him to send his résumé and a video.
“She said, ‘Do something fierce.’ I thought, yeah, I can do that,” Murphy recalled.
Two weeks later, he heard from the folks at Disney. They wanted to see him. A month later, he was hired.
The role requires the kind of kinetic, madcap energy that Robin Williams supplied in Disney’s 1992 animated film. James Monroe Iglehart won a Tony for playing it on Broadway in 2014. When Murphy signed on, neither he nor the folks at Disney were interested in him channeling either of those better-known men. “They said, bring Anthony Murphy to it.”
Murphy relishes the role. The tour, he said, does not have a closing date. He has a workout regimen to stay in shape, including cardio and proper hydration.
“This is the dream,” he said. “In this business, there are doubts all the time, doubts and setbacks. I couldn’t have known how things would turn out. But I get to do this fabulous role, wear these amazing costumes and work with some incredible people. Really, it’s quite a ride.”
Did someone say magic carpet?