19 Oct 2017
“I’m excited to have friends and family come and see the show,” he says. “Melbourne audiences are going to love it. The fact that it’s at Her Majesty’s Theatre, which is the perfect theatre for this show, means it’s going to be quite intimate. It’s going to look beautiful and I can’t wait to be living at home and driving to work.”
Despite not being quite in the target demographic when Aladdin was released in cinemas in 1992 – “I was in my 20s and was probably watching Pulp Fiction instead” – Murphy recognises the story’s endurance. “I remember seeing it, possibly on DVD, and realising that it wasn’t just a kids’ film. The themes and story are quite classic boy-meets-girl – he’s from the different side of the tracks and there’s someone in the middle trying to stop them.
“It’s a classic story and what I’m finding when performing the show now is that there are a lot of different people in the crowd – adults in their 20s on dates, grandparents bringing their kids, a vast array of people bringing their friends.”
Murphy plays Jafar, a classic Disney villain, so performing to these varied audiences is plenty of fun. It also means his character rarely gets a fond farewell when the curtain closes. “I’m very sinister and plotting and scheming the whole way through. I’m enjoying it because I get booed at the end. I’ve never been booed before. There’s kind of a mix of boos and applause; there’s an appreciation aspect to it, but also ‘we must boo the villain’.”
Murphy gives the sense that Aladdin is a real highpoint in his career to this point, for the same reasons audiences are flocking to see it. “It’s a big Broadway show. It’s got all the bells and whistles and it’s been brought to Australia. There’s no expense spared. I think people see the show and understand where their money’s going. I feel really privileged to be part of that, playing the epitome of a villain in a massive show like this.”
Restaurant Not long before we left for Sydney, we went to a new place in Eltham called Small Plates. It’s a tapas, wine bar-type place. The food’s beautiful, the atmosphere’s lovely and it’s just down the road from where I live.
Cafe We’ve got three kids and Shillinglaw Cafe is very kid-friendly. There’s an outdoor area and a big fenced-in area with a sandpit. It does great coffee, breakfasts and lunches.
View I think if you’re in a hot air balloon over the city, that’s the best way of soaking it all in.
Shopping When I’m in the city with a show, especially doing a matinee, there’s often a few hours to kill in between. Rather than going to a big shopping centre, I prefer exploring the laneways and finding new, boutique-y shops.
Walk With the family in mind, we like going to the Royal Botanic Gardens. It changes with the seasons and it’s lovely, kid-friendly and right in the city.
Free activity There’s a place in Eltham called Edendale Farm. It has cows and sheep and goats and ducks, and there’s also a cafe there. You can take a picnic, so if we’re ever looking for something we don’t have to pay for, we’ll take the kids down there.
Event When I first moved to Melbourne, there were a few things my Melbourne friends said you have to do, and I now agree with them. Going to the MCG to see a football game is kind of cliched, but even if you’re not a football fan to sit – or stand – at the MCG and watch a game is pretty special.
Must-do activity Melbourne’s full of beautiful and diverse restaurants, and the fact that the theatres are all quite close to each other is quite rare. Dinner and a show is definitely a must-do. Especially if the show is Aladdin at Her Majesty’s Theatre!