For Broadway Siblings Adam Jacobs and Arielle Jacobs, Aladdin Runs in the Family
Jacobs is currently touring in the title role he originated as his sister prepares to join the New York company.
Adam Jacobs has played Aladdin since 2011, flying on magic carpets on Broadway and in touring productions in Seattle, Toronto, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Chicago, and now, Los Angeles.
His sister, Arielle Jacobs, originated the role of Jasmine in the 2016 Australian production of the Disney stage musical, and will join the Broadway company as the iconic princess on February 20.
With that in mind, TheaterMania thought it was time to sit the siblings down — or at least, conference call them in from thousands of miles apart — to chat about their performing roots and how Aladdin, happily, has become a family affair for the Jacobs clan.
When you were kids, did you grow up wanting to be performers?
Adam Jacobs: I wasn't sure that I wanted to be a performer. I grew up playing soccer and doing sports. High school is probably where I decided. I had a great teacher who said, "You can do this."
Arielle Jacobs: I always loved singing, but I wasn't sure if it was just a hobby. When I was applying for colleges, I applied for music at half of the schools I applied to, and for the other half, I applied for science. And then I only got into music schools, so it was decided for me. I felt guided, in a way.
Arielle, you famously revealed your casting as Jasmine in the Australian production of Aladdin to your parents in a video. How did that come to be?
Arielle: Adam and I were doing a concert at Symphony Space called All in the Family, where they had family members who were performers sing together. Adam and I were going to end our set with "A Whole New World" and wanted to make an announcement at the show because our parents were going to be in the audience. Disney wasn't ready to make it public yet, so we still wanted to do something special.
It was my boyfriend's idea to go into the studio and record it, and then do this elaborate thing where we tricked our parents into thinking the recording was a publicity stunt with Adam and the new Jasmine in Australia. We had three different cameras hidden around the room to get their reaction.
What is it like to play these two beloved characters?
Adam: To be entrusted with the property of Aladdin is a huge privilege and an honor. There's that element, and then there's also just that surreal nature of playing a character who you loved watching, and trying to embody that onstage. The whole idea of playing something that you've loved for so long is very surreal. That's the only word I can use to describe it.
Arielle: I've wanted to be a Disney princess for my entire life. Maybe I was destined to be one because of my name. I feel like there's a lot to live up to in terms of portraying a character that's so strong and so out of her time. She's got such a modern mentality in wanting there to be gender equality and speaking her mind. I'm really grateful to bring that to life, and to show young girls that it's OK to be strong and independent and speak up for yourself.
What do future Aladdins and Jasmines need to remember in order to successfully play these roles (whether playing the role on Broadway, on tour, or in their high school production)?
Adam: Use the film as a guideline, but don't try and copy it. Make the role your own.
Arielle: And make it personal and meaningful for you. [Figure out] how to relate to what the character wants and how they feel on a personal level. It's an entertaining show, but it's also a powerful show. The audience can only connect to it if you're connected to it as well.
Adam: One of the main things is that you want to make it look effortless even though you know its not. Aladdin makes evading capture look extremely easy, and being able to run around, jump off buildings, and then, half-a-minute later, turn around and sing "Proud of Your Boy," that's pretty tough. I would say build up your cardio. Before you go in to audition for Aladdin, do like 50 jumping jacks and try to sing "Proud of Your Boy."