Akron native makes network TV debut in 'Schoolhouse Rock!' 50th anniversary show

Akron native Marcus Martin, who stars as Genie in the North American tour of "Aladdin," will make his network TV debut Wednesday in ABC's "Schoolhouse Rock! 50th Anniversary Singalong."
Akron native Marcus Martin, who stars as Genie in the North American tour of "Aladdin," will make his network TV debut Wednesday in ABC's "Schoolhouse Rock! 50th Anniversary Singalong."

Everyone knows a noun is a person, place or thing, right?

Akron native Marcus Martin will join a group of Disney stage stars to bring that grammar lesson home when he makes his network TV debut in the "School House Rock! 50th Anniversary Singalong" special at 8 p.m. Wednesday on ABC.

Martin, who plays Genie in the North American tour of "Aladdin" that launched in October, took a break from the tour for a couple days earlier this month to shoot the iconic "Schoolhouse Rock!" tune "A Noun Is a Person, Place or Thing" in New York. Performing with him are Michael Maliakel from Broadway's "Aladdin," Bonita Hamilton and Mduduzi Madela from Broadway's "The Lion King," Kara Lindsay from the original Broadway cast of "Newsies" and Charity Dawson from Paper Mill Playhouse's production of "Hercules."

Akronite stars in Disney tour:Marcus Martin to star as Genie in 'Aladdin' tour

"It was just a lot of fun. Everybody was really excited to be there and the group had great chemistry," said Martin, speaking by phone Jan. 19 from tour in Naples, Florida.

The 25-year-old actor was born in Akron and graduated from Copley High School. He said he's glad to be immersed in such exciting work now after graduating from Baldwin Wallace University in 2020, a very uncertain time for artists during the height of the pandemic.

"This experience just keeps getting better and better," Martin said of working for Disney.

Whirlwind trip to New York

Martin performed in "Aladdin" Jan. 4 in Miami, flew into New York the next morning, saw the Broadway show "Some Like It Hot" — directed and choreographed by "Aladdin" director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw — that night and was on a sound stage in Chelsea with Disney performers the next morning, Jan. 6.

"That was an honor to get to meet people from different shows and talk about their experiences with their shows," Martin said.

He was excited to perform with the likes of actress Hamilton, who has been with "The Lion King" for 18 years, as well Dawson, who's among the Black Broadway stars whose careers he's followed closely.

"As a newbie, to be trusted to stand alongside them, that was quite the honor and quite the privilege," said Martin.

"It was all very, very quick. Everything happened in a five-hour span," said Martin, including the meet-and-greet, walking through the set, learning the staging and choreography, doing the camera blocking and finally, filming.

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By 7 a.m. the next day, he was on a plane back to Miami for the Saturday matinee of "Aladdin," performing two shows that day and two more the next.

"It was pretty insane," Martin said. "It's the exhaustion that dreams are made of."

Martin, who will perform in "Aladdin" at Cleveland's Playhouse Square March 8 through 12, said he's having "a blast" on tour.

Marcus Martin's 'Schoolhouse Rock!' memories

Martin is no stranger to the "Schoolhouse Rock!" animated educational series, which began running in 1973 during ABC's Saturday morning children's programming.

Growing up in Northeast Ohio, he remembers teachers showing VHS or YouTube videos of the catchy educational shorts, such as "I'm Just a Bill," that coincided with class lessons.

"I definitely felt the impact of 'Schoolhouse Rock!' as a kid," Martin said.

For the 50th anniversary special, "A Noun Is a Person, Place or Thing" has a modern arrangement that fits the voices of the Disney stars singing it, the artist said.

Ryan Seacrest will serve as host and headmaster for the show, which will also include this celebrity lineup:

  • Black Eyed Peas, "Three is a Magic Number"

  • Derek Hough and Hayley Erbert, "Figure 8"

  • Jason Biggs and Jenny Mollen, "I'm Just a Bill"

  • Julianne Hough, "Interplanet Janet"

  • The Muppets and Fortune Feimster, "Unpack Your Adjectives"

  • Ne-Yo, "Verb: That's What's Happening"

  • Raven Symone and Kal Penn, "Interjections"

  • Retta, "Ready or Not, Here I Come"

  • Shaquille O'Neal and the Boys and Girls Club of Atlanta, "Conjunction Junction."

"I never knew I'd be co-workers with The Muppets," Martin joked about his famed colleagues on the show.

Arts and restaurant writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com.

How to watch Marcus Martin in 'Schoolhouse Rock!'

Show: "Schoolhouse Rock! 50th Anniversary Singalong"

When and where: 8 p.m. Wednesday on ABC

Next: Streaming on Hulu starting Thursday, and at a later date on Disney+

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Akron native Marcus Martin appears in 'Schoolhouse Rock!' on ABC