Was There Aladdin Competition Between the Jacobs Siblings?

Special Features   Was There Aladdin Competition Between the Jacobs Siblings? Knowing they could never play opposite one another, Aladdin actors Adam Jacobs and Arielle Jacobs look back at how they formed Sibling Disobedience.
Arielle and Adam Jacobs
Arielle and Adam Jacobs Sean Turi

This weekend, siblings Adam Jacobs and Arielle Jacobs will head to Feinstein’s/54 Below with their show Sibling Disobedience: Breaking the Rules on the Way to the Great White Way, in which they’ll sing a song or two from Aladdin, among others. Adam (who’s older by four years) originated the role on Broadway, and Arielle was recently cast as Jasmine in the Australian production. Aside from the May 29 concert, and for obvious reasons, audiences will never see the Jacobs siblings adventure to Agrabah together.

Here, the brother-sister pair talk competition when it came to Aladdin, a show in which they’re perfect for the leading love interests, and what it was like growing up. Plus, they look back on their 13-year-old selves and reveal which one of them would sneak behind a church after religion class to make out!

Tell me about making the “A Whole New World” video to surprise your parents with the announcement of Arielle’s casting in the Australian production.
Arielle Jacobs: We wanted to create something that was going to be a surprise, and we didn’t want to just tell them over lunch, so we were thinking of what we could do that would be unexpected—something that we could trick them into thinking that it was just a video of Adam singing with the girl cast as Jasmine. They didn’t even know that I auditioned for the part—I never told them—so they didn’t even know that it was a possibility. It was actually my boyfriend’s idea to go into the studio and sing the song and then play it for them like it was a press video.

So, when we sat them down on the couch, we were like, “Do you guys want to watch this video of Adam singing with the new Australian Jasmine? They flew her here to sing with him, and Adam’s like, ‘I don’t know if I like her voice, so you guys watch it, and tell me what you think.’” Then we set up three hidden cameras around the living room, and we pressed record when the video started, so they didn’t know that they were being recorded.

We saw their reactions on video, but what did they say afterwards?
Arielle: They go into planning mode, like, “Okay, when is it? When’s opening night? How are we going to get out there?” My mom is a big planner, so it was all about trying to figure out timing. In the video, my dad, when I first came on the screen, was like, “Wait, that looks like Arielle, but it can’t be. Where is this? What’s going on?”

Adam Jacobs: Yeah, it took him a second. Mom kind of got it right away.

Arielle, tell me about getting cast. Years ago, when you first heard that Aladdin was happening, could you even consider it?
Arielle: Adam and Courtney [Reed] were already cast. I had a relationship with Disney from when they did High School Musical because I did the tour. After Adam and Courtney were already cast, I went in and had an audition a few years ago because they were wanting to see me for possible future productions and possible future opportunities. I just went in again for the Australia production a couple months ago.

Were you always a fan of the movie like Adam?
Arielle: Yeah, I did love it. Actually, when I was in the fourth grade, I sang “A Whole New World” for my talent show. It was me and my best friend, and she played Princess Jasmine. Our parents had just came back from a vacation in Turkey; they brought me this Genie-like costume, and I ended up wearing it to play Aladdin for our talent show. I’ve always loved the music, and I’ve always dreamed of playing a Disney princess, so the fact that it’s finally happening is pretty unreal.

Adam Jacobs in Aladdin
Adam Jacobs in Aladdin Cylla von Tiedemann

So, let’s talk about the 54 Below show! What can we expect?
Adam: It’s going to be so much fun. We’re going to tell stories about how growing up we would fight and fuss a lot, but we were always there for each other. We’re telling some never-before-heard stories. Our parents are going to be there, and there are so many stories we haven’t told them, so it’s going to be interesting to gauge their reactions.

What story can you tease?!
Adam: We don’t want to tell the big one…!

Arielle: We can talk about when we were 13.

Adam: When I was 13, I was doing my first community theatre production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and I talk about how they created a role for me to be in the show because it had already been cast. I talk about sharing the role of Simon with a guy who had been cast, and he really was not happy about it…. I sing the song “Poor Jerusalem,” and I sing it from his perspective and from my perspective. There’s a lot of songs where we’re interweaving stories into the music. Alex Gemignani is directing it, and he’s been really helpful. James Abbott is music directing and doing the arrangements…and then Jenny Leon is associate directing.

Arielle: So, they basically created the role of the 13th apostle for Adam to be in the show because they liked him so much, but they didn’t have any part for him…. When I was 13, I was taking religion classes once a week to get ready for my confirmation, and I was secretly dating one of the boys in my class. When our parents were supposed to be picking us up in the parking lot, he and I would just go behind the church and make out for like 20 minutes, and I would go out to the parking lot, and my dad’s car would be the only one left, so I sing a song about feeling like I’m cool sh*t and getting away with stuff!

What kind of songs will you sing at 54 Below?
Arielle: We have a song from Aladdin and a song from Wicked. I’ve got an Alanis Morissette song, an India.Arie song and a Sara Bareilles song.

Adam: Oleta Adams.

Arielle: I’ve got a Ryan Scott Oliver song.

Adam: And we have one classical mash-up… It’s really an eclectic mix of music!

What were you two like growing up? Were you competitive? Were you friends? Were you always getting on each other’s nerves?
Arielle: I think it’s a little of all of it!

Adam: But I think mostly getting on each other’s nerves…and trying to stay out of each other’s way…

Arielle: Yeah, I remember that I wanted to run away a lot because I felt like he was really mean to me, but then there were some days when he would let me play Super Mario Bros. with him, and we were fine. We had our on days and our off days, I think.

Did you both know that you wanted to pursue a career on Broadway?
Adam: Not really. Arielle started performing before me, even though she was younger. She started with singing and dancing, and I was doing sports at the time and piano lessons. I sort of switched over after her, so she took the lead there.

Arielle: Even though I was doing singing and dancing and acting from a really young age, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it as my career. All the way through high school, I still wasn’t sure because I really loved science, so I applied to colleges—some of them for environmental science and some of them for musical theatre. It turned out that I only got into the musical theatre schools, so it was decided for me! But I always loved it, and it always made me feel alive, and I love telling stories. Adam, did you know [you wanted to pursue a career in theatre] when you were in high school or was it after that?

Adam: High school was where it was cemented for me, but I had been performing. I shouldn't say that you completely started before me because when I was in seventh grade, I played Oliver [in Oliver!]. In eighth grade I played Curly in Oklahoma!, and I had been doing piano recitals up until that point. But it wasn’t really cemented for me until high school where I had this really great teacher who said, “You can do this.” And then I went to NYU, and the rest was history.

What has it been like getting to work in the same community?
Arielle: That’s the fun part. When I was doing Wicked, it was the first time that he and I were on the same show schedule, and we could meet up for lunch or dinner between shows because all of the other shows I had done… In the Heights was here, but I think Adam [was] on tour or something because we weren’t both on Broadway at the same time.

Adam: We’re off the same train line, so we can ride home together.

Have you guys ever performed together aside from concerts?
Arielle: When we were 10 and 14.

Adam: We did a TheaterWorks production.

Arielle: There’s a picture on my Instagram from when we did a Native-American show together. I was 10, and Adam was 14, and it’s the only show I think that we’ve ever been on the same stage in the same show.

Adam: Honor Song for Crazy Horse was the name of it.

When it comes to something like Aladdin, who gets to pick and choose?
Adam: Well, I was there first! It’s sort of first come, first serve!

Arielle: It was the same thing with Zorro! Adam booked Zorro, and then I was supposed to have an audition, and my agent told casting, “You know, that’s Adam Jacobs’ sister,” and then they cancelled my audition. It’s usually whoever is there first, and so far it’s been Adam because I was stuck in L.A. for a long time.

What would you want to do together now?
Adam: It’s tough because we can never play opposite each other as love interests, obviously, and whenever there’s shows that we both want to do, only one of us could ever do it. [Laughs.] There needs to be more shows written for brothers and sisters—some meaty, juicy family musicals would be really great.

Arielle: Yeah, there’s a lot of family dramas and plays, but not a lot of family musicals.

Adam: We’ve talked if she played Evita and I played Che. … Bernardo and Maria in West Side Story

Arielle: We were talking about Hamilton.

Adam: Oh yeah! Any roles in Hamilton…!

Michael Gioia is the Features Manager at Playbill.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.

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