It’s not surprising that Kris Lythgoe quotes his father when talking about his latest production, “Aladdin and his Winter Wish.” Lythgoe’s father, Nigel Lythgoe, was the producer of blockbuster reality singing competition “American Idol” and is the executive producer of dance competition “So You Think You Can Dance.”
“My father once said that we spend all of our time worrying about our kids walking and talking when they’re very young and we spend the rest of their childhood telling them to sit down and shut up,” Lythgoe cracks while calling from his Los Angeles office.
Lythgoe, 39, wants children to interact with actors during “Aladdin and his Winter Wish,” and encourages it. The Lythoe Family production will run Nov. 29 through Dec. 2 at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium.
“We’re used to just sitting there throughout a production, but we have a character that will let kids know that it’s fine to connect with the characters,” Lythgoe says. “We want the kids to have fun with the genie in Aladdin. The children can boo. We love that the fourth wall is broken. There is a narrator that stays with the audience throughout the show. Theater should be fun. I think our production is different.”
Indeed. Lythgoe’s show has local touches. The character Wishy Washy will wear a shirt that is part UNC, Duke and NC State.
“We can do things like that, so why not do it?” Lythgoe says. “The whole cast enjoys it.”
Jason Gotay, who appeared on Broadway in “Bring It On: The Musical” and “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” stars in “Aladdin and his Winter Wish.”
The production is based on the Aladdin fairytale of a street rat with a dream. Lythgoe’s show follows the style of the traditional British Panto with boisterous singing, comedic moments, audience participation and a mix of contemporary and retro music.
“This is a style that I grew up with,” Lythgoe says. “We have music from a number of eras. It ranges from Ray Charles to Bruno Mars.”
There’s even some ‘80s tunes, such as one-hit wonder Matthew Wilder’s “Break My Stride.”
“The ‘80s are my era,” Lythgoe says. “There was a lot of fun music then and this is a fun production. It’s Aladdin. It’s a good time.”
“Aladdin is hot right now,” Lythgoe says. “It’s a timeless tale that everyone knows and loves.”
Lythgoe, the father of two children, has a soft spot for the theater since he grew up with it, courtesy of his mother, Bonnie Lythgoe, who was a dancer.
“It’s a great environment for kids,” Lythgoe says. “Not enough children get to see what theater is about. People always think it’s an expensive, high fallutin’ event. It doesn’t have to be. We try to make it as affordable and kid-friendly as possible.”
There will be arts and crafts tables and princess makeover booths along the concourse of the theater.
“We want kids and families to have fun and come back next year,” Lythgoe says.
Lythgoe’s company will bring “Snow White” to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in 2019 with “Peter Pan” the following year.
Lythgoe has experienced so much, thanks to his father’s productions. “So it’s no surprise that I work in this industry,” Lythgoe says.
Aladdin is a far cry from “American Idol,” which Lythgoe worked on in musical production.
“I have so many memories of “American Idol,” Lythgoe says. “I remember in 2002 we were doing auditions in New York and we thought a riot broke out because of the amount of people on the street. But it wasn’t something spilling over from the (United Nations). The masses of people were there to audition for our show. The next time we were in New York, we had to have auditions in Yankee Stadium. That was the mark of success.
“We’re having success with ‘Aladdin.’ But it’s a different kind of success but it’s just as gratifying.”
“Aladdin and His Winter Wish” presented by NC Theatre
When: Seven shows Nov. 29 through Dec. 2. Times vary.
Where: Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, 2 E. South St., Raleigh
Tickets: $25 and up
Info: 919-831-6941 or nctheatre.com For groups of 10 or more, call 919-831-6941, ext. 6949.