By Randy McMullen
Entertainment Columnist, Bay Area News Group
Former Hayward resident and 1998 Cal State East Bay graduate James Monroe Iglehart won a Tony Award Sunday for his role as the Genie in the new Disney musical "Aladdin."
Iglehart won a Tony for best featured actor in a musical for the role, which includes a showstopping, nearly 11-minute song-and-dance number, "Friend Like Me." Iglehart also won a Drama Desk Award and Toronto Theatre Critics Association Award for the same part. He performed with the cast of "Aladdin" at Sunday's Tony Awards ceremony.
During his Tony acceptance speech, Iglehart reportedly offered thanks to former Cal State East Bay Theatre Department costume technician Celestine Rainey-Howes for "... keeping (him) in college."
Iglehart grew up in Hayward and has made his mark in Bay Area theater. He performed in "Bat Boy" for TheatreWorks in Palo Alto and in "Grease" for American Musical Theatre in San Jose. On Broadway, he has appeared in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and "Memphis," the Tony-winning musical that originated at TheatreWorks.
"James was very special. He did it all," said professor Thomas C. Hird, chair of CSUEB's Department of Theatre and Dance, in a statement. "(Iglehart) could sing, dance, act, and he would even work backstage. And he's still that way today."