Aladdin's Adam Jacobs on the "Whole New World" of Fatherhood and the Magic Carpet Ride to Broadway

Jacobs also gives the inside scoop on the “costume gnomes” that keep the Swarovski crystals on his princely garb.

Since opening to rave reviews just over one month ago, Adam Jacobs and the cast of Disney's Aladdin have been flying steady at the New Amsterdam Theatre, consistently ranking among the top grossing shows available on the platter of Broadway offerings. Now firmly settled into his seat (or magic carpet, as the case may be), Jacobs took some time with TheaterMania to reflect on this wild ride over three years in the making. From a touring Simba to the face of a Disney blockbuster — not to mention a new father of twin boys — Jacobs' trip to Agrabah has been anything but dull.

Adam Jacobs stars in the title role in Disney's Aladdin, directed by Casey Nicholaw, at the New Amsterdam Theatre.
Adam Jacobs stars in the title role in Disney's Aladdin, directed by Casey Nicholaw, at the New Amsterdam Theatre.
(© David Gordon)

How has the run been going so far?
It has been going really well. For me it started three years ago with the New York workshops — going from there to Seattle to Toronto and then bringing it here. It's been quite a journey and I'm just happy to be with it here.

How did you first get involved with the workshops?
I was playing Simba in The Lion King on the road and the two producers, Thomas Schumacher (head of Disney Theatricals) and Anne Quart, saw me. They knew that Aladdin was in the works — I had no idea that they were working on it — and they called my agent and said, "We want to bring him in for a week off the road to do this workshop." That's how it started. Then they decided they wanted to use me for the Seattle production. In the meantime, they brought me in from the road to Broadway to play Simba for a year — kept me in the family, so to speak. What was great about this whole process is that we got to have pretty much the same principles stay with the show from the beginning all the way to the end. We got to be a part of the whole process, which was pretty amazing.

Were you worried you would be replaced for the Broadway production?
There's always that thought. Especially with Aladdin. I thought, Disney could bring in a name if they wanted to. It would be very easy for them to do that. Even though I know that historically they haven't really done that with other shows, so I was hoping that would be in my favor, and it was. I was actually playing Zorro down at the Alliance Theatre and I got a call saying, "We would like you to play Aladdin on Broadway." I was so happy. I felt like all this work that had gone into this project was validated. It made me feel appreciated…It's really surreal for me. I feel like I'm in the right place at the right time with this role and this show.

You and the rest of the cast wear incredibly elaborate costumes, filled with intricate beading and thousands of Swarovski crystals. How do you maintain costumes like that in such an active production?
There's a whole floor…and there's all these little dwarves and gnomes up there. [laughs] But seriously, they're working on those costumes twenty-four-seven and they're redoing the crystals and rechecking all the hooks and eyes and the buttons and everything. My dresser is the one who really looks after them but when you're handing them off, it's kind of like passing a baby. It's funny, you hear the sound of raining beads throughout the really big cast numbers. There's always a little pile at the end of the show. There is somebody who collects them all on the stage and they reuse them.

Speaking of babies, how has it been balancing fatherhood with your Broadway career?
It's a little overwhelming. Honestly, I feel like I'm sort of split between two worlds. When I'm home, I'm thinking about the show, when I'm at the show, I'm thinking about my boys. I'm still adjusting to this new normal of being a dad and starring in a Broadway show. This is the new me and life has changed. This is probably the most exciting time of my life. Leading a show and having twins at the same time? That's not going to happen again. It could happen again, but that would be kind of insane. [laughs]

Do you and your wife have any go-to lullabies you like to sing to your sons?
I've sung "A Whole New World" once or twice, I can tell you that.

Adam Jacobs and his wife, actress Kelly Jacobs, with their new twin sons, Jack and Alex.
Adam Jacobs and his wife, actress Kelly Jacobs, with their new twin sons, Jack and Alex.
(courtesy of Disney Theatricals)

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