By Lindsay Champion
March 10, 2014
For a Broadway actor, there’s nothing more challenging than originating a lead role in a brand new musical. Oh, except maybe having newborn twins. Adam Jacobs is tackling both at once this spring, playing the title role in Disney’s Aladdin by night and playing dad to six-week-old sons Jack and Alex by day. Fatherhood is new to him, but Jacobs is used to this whole Disney prince thing—he played Simba in The Lion King on Broadway after making his debut in the 2006 revival of Les Miserables. Below, Jacobs chatted with Broadway.com about hanging out with composer Alan Menken, his view from the magic carpet and rocking M.C. Hammer pants on the playground.
This is your second time playing a Disney prince on Broadway, how does it feel to be back?
It’s crazy how my career has taken me down the Disney path, but I’m not complaining! I love all the Disney films, but Aladdin and The Lion King were my two favorites growing up. You don’t really have a lot of Disney movies out there with the guy as the central figure, and so Aladdin was somebody I related to. I thought he was just the coolest.
Do you remember the first time you saw the movie?
I remember watching it over and over again at home and just getting drawn into the world of Agrabah. At school, I would pretend I was Aladdin, I would be jumping from benches and stuff, pretending that I’m evading capture.
Did you have the pants?
I didn’t have the baggy pants—I had the M.C. Hammer pants though, that’s close enough. [Laughs.]
What’s your favorite part of the new musical?
There’s a new duet called “A Million Miles Away,” it takes place in Aladdin’s rooftop, right after he and Jasmine meet in the marketplace. They’re running away from guards and he whisks her up there. It’s the first time the audience gets the chance to see Aladdin and Jasmine connect and it’s a beautiful song. [Composer] Alan Menken is a living legend and we’re working with him throughout the whole process. It’s so cool.
Has Alan Menken shown you his Tony and Oscar collection?
No, he hasn’t! I’d love to see all the awards he’s won, it’s incredible. I don’t know where he gets all the time to do that stuff, it’s amazing. He’s probably got them in boxes up in the attic, there’s so many.
Congratulations on the new additions to your family! How are your twins doing?
Thank you, they’re doing great—Jack and Alex! They’re so cute. I’ve never been a parent before, and now I understand what everybody’s talking about. [Laughs.] It’s still strange saying I’m the dad, and they’re my sons.
How are you even awake right now?
My mother-in-law was in town for a month to help out with the night feedings and stuff, so that was invaluable. My wife [actress Kelly Jacobs] is the oldest of three sisters, and they each came in for a few days, but they just left. So now we have to figure out what we’re gonna do. [Laughs.]
Wow, how has it been going so far?
Kelly was a dance captain and a swing in Mary Poppins, so she’s pretty organized. You have to learn all the different roles and all the tracks as a swing, so now she’s learning the Jack track and the Alex track. [Laughs.] I thought the birth would be hard, which it was, obviously, but afterwards, the feeding every three hours and the sleep deprivation that goes with that, it’s a marathon. I had no idea. It gives me a whole new appreciation for all mothers.
What Disney movie are you going to show your sons first when they’re old enough?
Well, I’ll probably show them Aladdin. I’m looking forward to that day when they’re old enough to understand that I played the role on Broadway and they’re gonna see those photos and those videos. Hopefully they’ll be proud. Or they might just be like, “Oh Dad, you’re always acting like that, that’s nothing special.” [Laughs.]
What is it like reuniting with Courtney Reed (Jasmine) and James Monroe Iglehart (the Genie) after starring in the Toronto production together?
It’s rare that a show goes out of town and then the same principles are cast in the Broadway production. To get the phone call and realize we’re all going together, it was so exciting to hear that news. We get to be on stage and get paid to do it, it’s just crazy.
I guess it’s pretty warm in Agrabah, since you’ve got your shirt off the whole time.
I have to be shirtless once again, but hey, I’m gonna do that as long as I can do it. [Laughs.] Luckily, this is a pretty physical show, so it tends to keep me in shape, cardio-wise. I can’t go out and party all night like I used to do when I was on tour. It’s quite different now, but I’m totally cool with that.
What’s the magic carpet-eye view, when you’re up there looking down at all the dazzled kids in the crowd?
A lot of times, when the set pulls away and the carpet rises, there tends to be an intake of breath, like a gasp that you hear from the audience. Last Sunday, there were so many kids, and you could see, they weren’t moving around, they were completely still. Just completely engaged, enjoying the show.
So you’re able to take it all in, you’re not nervous about falling off the carpet?
The first time I rode it, it was nerve-wracking, but they turn the lights off when we’re actually riding it, and it’s a lot smoother than you would think. I wish everybody got a chance to ride it. We can start charging tickets. Maybe a $10,000 donation to Broadway Cares!
So it hasn’t gotten stuck yet, knock on wood?
Nope, knock on wood, we’ve been good. One time in Toronto we had to stop, but it was before the flight, because we knew something was off. So we held the show for 20 minutes and started right back up. It was really funny because Jasmine’s line is, “So, is it safe?” And I say, “Sure, do you trust me?” And of course, the night it got stuck, the audience cracked up.
See Adam Jacobs in Aladdin, opening March 20 at the New Amsterdam Theatre.