BWW Interview: ALADDIN's Matthew Croke Discusses His Debut Album
Matthew Croke is currently starring in the title role of Aladdin in the West End. He's also found the time to record his debut album, Only Dreaming, featuring a collection of classic songs from stage and screen.
What made you decide to embark on this album?
One of my first jobs was Wicked in London when I was about 19. I was in the ensemble, and at the time Fiyero was played by Oliver Tompsett - he was amazing.
I remember walking past the Front of House one day and saw they sold his album. I thought that was so cool, and since then I've always wanted to do it. So, when the opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance.
Tell us a bit about the title and what it means to you
I had lots of possible titles, but I stuck with this one because it ties in with my role in Aladdin. During the song "A Whole New World", I sing the line "Or say we're only dreaming". I feel like I'm still dreaming being able to do what I do every day - and let's face it, I wouldn't have been able to do an album if I hadn't got the role of Aladdin, as it's given me so many opportunities that I didn't have before.
Was it hard to select the tracks for it? Or are these songs you've loved a long time?
Some tracks I knew straightaway, like "Come What May" and "Something's Coming", as they're old favourites. Some of the other songs my amazing producer Alan Williams suggested and I fell in love with them as well, like "Fight the Dragons" and "Home".
Can you share some of your favourites from the album, and why they're meaningful?
Well, obviously the Aladdin songs mean so much to me and was so happy I could record them - especially "Proud of Your Boy". I also wanted to record some songs that reflected on my career, like "Singin' in the Rain" and "Something's Coming".
Are some of these roles you'd like to play?
Yes! Absolutely. Before Aladdin, I understudied a lot, and being standby to Tony in West Side Story was amazing. I would love to play that role full-time one day.
Do you take inspiration from the original artists who sang some of these?
Yes, it was interesting listening to all the originals, and then having Alan arranging my versions and making them my own.
Which other artists' albums influenced or inspired you when creating yours?
As far as a musical theatre album goes, Oliver inspired me so much back in the Wicked days. I fell in love with singing so much during that show, and I just knew that if I ever had the chance to do what he had done, I'd be very lucky.
Did anything surprise or challenge you about making an album, versus your stage work?
Yes, it did actually. I remember going into the studio and it took me a while to adjust to the sound, as I'm used to performing in a huge theatre singing live eight times a week - which, compared to a recording booth, was so different. I got used to it though.
Will you be touring the album or doing concerts?
I would love to, and maybe when Aladdin finishes I'll be able to do a few dates performing the album.
Finally, what do you hope fans take from the album?
Well, I wanted to use the opportunity to let people hear a different side to my voice, as well as giving our amazing Aladdin fans a few of their favourite songs too.
Matthew Croke's Only Dreaming is available now