Meet Broadway’s AladdinBy Joe Meny
Disney’s Aladdin, now playing at the New Amsterdam Theater (Broadway & 42nd St.), has been described as “The must-see show of the year.” Since opening in March 2014, Aladdin has delighted audiences night after night with its beautiful staging, singing, acting and costumes. Asian Fusion is thrilled to have had the opportunity to get to know Aladdin himself, Adam Jacobs. Here’s what Adam talked about with us.
AF: Congratulations on your success, and the success of Aladdin. Tell us how it feels every night when you step out on the stage and realize you are Aladdin.
AJ: “Thank you! It feels like a dream to be playing a character that I so admired and emulated growing up. Naturally there’s a lot of pressure in terms of people’s expectations when playing an iconic character such as this. I try not to think about it too much because it can sometimes be overwhelming. It’s much easier to just “be” Aladdin as opposed to realizing you’re playing him.
AF: Can you share with us a little bit about your background? We understand that you are half Filipino. How has that had an influence on your path to success?
AJ: “That’s right, my mother is Filipina and throughout my life I’ve had tremendous support from my family, my Filipino friends and the Fil-Am community at large. I should point out that the Fil-Am community in this country has always been incredibly supportive of artists like me and they have been like a second family to me. Having a mixed background has allowed me to play a wide range of characters, and with the continued advances made in non-traditional casting, I’ve had some great success.”
AF: Is there any one thing (person, experience, revelation) that you could say most influenced your decision to become an actor?
AJ: “Besides my parents who put me in piano lessons at an early age, took me to see countless shows, and drove me all over the SF Bay Area to rehearsals and classes, I would have to say that my high school drama teacher, Peter Devine, influenced my decision to pursue a career in the performing arts. He was like a mentor to me and really helped foster my young talent. I wouldn’t have made it without him.”
AF: Having recently seen Aladdin, we were very impressed with the cultural diversity represented in the cast. Can you talk to us on how wonderful that must be to work with such a diverse and talented cast at every performance?
AJ: “I’m proud to say that Aladdin really is one of the most diverse and talented casts currently on Broadway. Having a diverse cast makes the show extremely relatable and enjoyable to anyone and everyone. I feel like when people of color see our show and see people on the stage that look like them, they’re more invested in the storytelling and feel inspired. Disney Theatrical has always done an excellent job in bringing diversity to the stage with all of their shows.
AF: Do you have a favorite scene from the show? Perhaps a favorite song?
AJ: “I love singing “Proud Of Your Boy”. Alan Menken’s melody and lyrics are so simple and beautiful in this song and it’s wonderfully orchestrated too. It’s the one moment towards the beginning of the show that the audience gets a glimpse at the heart of Aladdin and his desire to become a better person.
AF: For any of our readers who may be in acting, or considering a career in acting, what words of advice and wisdom can you share?
AJ: “I usually tell aspiring actors to just stick it out. It took me 8 years from when I first auditioned for Simba in The Lion King to when I finally booked it. Patience and perseverance will pay off if you train hard and maintain a positive attitude.”
AF: If you could do it all over again, from your early beginnings to being a Broadway star, is there anything you would do differently?
AJ: “Honestly I wouldn’t change a thing. I paid my dues. I did cruise ships, theme parks, small regional and community theater gigs– some good, some not so good– but I gained valuable experience along the way which makes me now appreciate my journey to Broadway all the more.”
AF: When you think about the future, where would you like to be? Is there a role in any show, current or otherwise, that you would like to play?
AJ: “I’m open to whatever the future holds for me. I don’t know what my next project will be but I’m excited to see what it will be. I’m working on a debut solo album which should come out this fall, which could lead to some concerts, maybe in the Philippines, who knows?”
AF: And finally, about that flying carpet ride. What’s that like? And if you could take that magic carpet anywhere in the world, Adam, where would you go?
AJ: “I get to ride on a magic carpet every night and that’s pretty gosh darn cool. It’s great to hear the audible gasps from the audience and feel their excitement. If I could go anywhere on the carpet right now, I’d probably go to the top of Mt. Everest, but I might need a jacket. My little vest doesn’t do well in terms of insulation!”
AF: Thank you so much, Adam, for your time…and all our best wishes from Asian Fusion for your continued success!