Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Proud of Your Boy - An Interview with Adam Jacobs

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Deen Van Meer

One of my favourite memories of the Seattle production of Aladdin was being fortunate enough to interview many of the principal cast members of the show.  When it was announced that Aladdin would be coming to Broadway I always hoped that I'd be able to do that again and tonight I'm extremely happy and honoured to be able to present an interview with Aladdin himself, Adam Jacobs!


Hi Adam!

Thanks for agreeing to do this again, I can't believe it's been over three years since we last did this for the Seattle Pilot!

Last time we did an interview you were in the middle of rehearsing for Seattle, so that seems like a good place to start. What was that production like to be a part of and how did you approach the character of Aladdin?
 
Looking back now, Seattle seems like a distant memory!  I feel like a LOT has happened since then and the show has grown and changed so much.  That was an exciting time, full of possibilities and experimentation.  Everyone's creative juices were flowing and we all were hyped up and daring to push the limits of what we could do.  My approach to Aladdin was taking what I already knew about him (aversion to authority, rough around the edges but with a heart of gold, witty and insouciant) and tried to delve a little deeper into the "why".  Where did his laissez faire attitude stem from?  How much was his mother an influence in his life? Was there a father figure?  Creating my own backstory helped create and inform the character.
 
What was your favorite part of the show in that production and is that still your favorite part in this new production?
 
I loved how the Seattle audiences received us with open arms.  I also loved watching “High Adventure” from the wings (and still do).
 
Between playing Aladdin in Seattle and returning to the role on Broadway you certainly kept busy, reuniting with Courtney Reed in Once On This Island and starring as Zorro.  What is it that attracted you to these roles and what do you look for in a show?
 
I tend to be attracted roles that require a bit of athleticism.  I had to learn how to fence in Zorro and working with Terry King, one of the foremost fight choreographers today when it comes to sword-fighting, was super fulfilling.  I love playing characters that have a hero's journey.

Adam Jacobs as Zorro, Photo by Grey Mooney

When did you first learn that Aladdin might be heading to Broadway, how did you come to be involved with the production, and what was it like to get that call saying you'd got the part?

I actually found out I'd be playing Aladdin on Broadway while I was rehearsing for Zorro.  Getting that call straight from the Disney producers was incredible to the say the least.  My wife happened to be in town that week in Atlanta and we were jumping for joy in the hotel room.
 
Having been with the show since the early workshops and pilot production, how did it feel to finally get to bring the show to Broadway and to do so with many of your Seattle cast mates?
 
Having been with the show from the very beginning makes our arrival here even that much more fulfilling. Stepping into the New Amsterdam Theatre and seeing them load our set in was electrifying.  We felt like all the hard work and all the revisions and rewrites and the blood sweat and tears were worth it.
 
Having played the part before, did this inform how you approached the role or did you try to approach it as if you’d not played the character before when you started rehearsing for Toronto?
 
When I started rehearsals again for Toronto, it was like putting on a familiar coat, or riding a bike.  Aladdin was still within me and it didn't take much coaxing to bring that character back to life.

Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann
 
The show went through some big changes between Toronto and Broadway (arguably even bigger than the changes between Seattle and Toronto) but the final show is much stronger for it.  What were those final rehearsals like in the run up to your Broadway opening?
 
Honestly it was a little chaotic.  We were still making script changes the day before opening and I was a little sad when it actually became "frozen".  Even though I was excited to have the show set, I always go through a little bit of mourning when the creative process ends.
 
Looking back over all the versions of show, from early workshops to Broadway’s opening night, is there anything that you miss/were sorry to see go from those earlier versions and what’s been your favorite addition/change to the show?
 
Well, sure there were jokes here and there that I loved and was sad to see go, but all the trims and cuts helped streamline the story and it was the right thing to do.  I miss Babkak's "It's the vamp" line, and I miss parts of "Call Me A Princess".  But I also love some of the new lines like "I think the chosen people are a few hundred miles to the west..."
 
The cast album is incredible.  What was it like in the recording studio?
 
A bit nerve-wracking.  Knowing it's forever made me a bit jittery.  Having Alan Menken there didn't help either :). But I'm super pleased with how it came out.


Adam Jacobs in the recording studio with Alan Menken

In our previous interview, you spoke about your pre-show routine for playing Simba (in The Lion King), what’s your pre-show routine like for Aladdin?
 
It's actually not too different.  I still do some of the same exercises and warm ups, but now I just add some juggling and a little tap-dancing.
 
What’s the best part about being Aladdin on Broadway?
 
Greeting the fans at the stage door is the best.  Seeing people of all types and ages excited and happy from watching us fills me up every time.  Even if I feel like I didn't have the best show, hearing people say how much they loved it makes it all worth it.
 
If you weren't playing Aladdin, which role would you want to play in the show?
 
I'd love to take a crack at Kassim just to do “High Adventure.”  I just love that number.

"High Adventure", Photo by Adam Jacobs

And finally, what's your favorite show and why?
 
I don't have a definite favorite, but one of my favorite shows is West Side Story.  I love that score and the choreography.  I remember watching the guys dance "Cool" in the film and being entranced by how much the dance was telling the story.  Those love songs are pretty incomparable too :)

Adam, once again, thank you so much for doing this interview.  It was incredible getting to see you bring Aladdin to life earlier this year, I wish you all the best.


In addition to Adam Jacobs, I just want to say a big thank you to Disney Theatrical for arranging this interview for me.

Adam Jacobs is currently playing the title role in Disney's Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theatre, New York.  Tickets are currently on sale through to January 2015 and can be purchased from the show's official website.  If you want to know more about Adam make sure you check out his website.

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