How Adam Jacobs Appeared In Aladdin and The Who's Tommy In One Night | Playbill

Special Features How Adam Jacobs Appeared In Aladdin and The Who's Tommy In One Night

Broadway's original Aladdin moved heaven and earth to celebrate both his past and present March 28.

Adam Jacobs Marc J. Franklin/ Tricia Baron

The stars aligned for actor Adam Jacobs March 28. As Broadway's original Aladdin, he naturally wanted to be involved in the production's spectacular 10th anniversary celebration. But there was one major hitch: He had to open a different Broadway show, The Who's Tommy, the very same night. 

But through some theatre magic, Jacobs was able to be appear on the stage in both shows last night. Jacobs began his evening performing at the New Amsterdam Theatre, where he made a cameo onstage for the opening moments of Aladdin. Then, a half hour later, he was at the Nederlander Theatre, in his current starring role as Captain Walker in The Who's Tommy. And no, there was no magic carpet involved, just a lot of running.

"It was absolutely insane," Jacobs shared with Playbill, laughing. "Yesterday was one of the craziest days of my life."

Jacobs cameo in the celebration performance of Aladdin, which brought the audience to its feet in joyous surprise, didn't come together until two days ago. "When I first found out that this was happening, I was so disappointed, because I thought there was no way I was gonna be able to do it," recalls the actor, who played Aladdin on Broadway for three years, 2014 to 2017.

Had the Aladdin anniversary celebration fallen on any other day of the year, Jacobs would have had the option of voluntarily calling out of that performance of The Who's Tommy. But calling out of the opening night performance was an absolute no-go. 

Disney Theatricals, the Aladdin creative team, and the producers of The Who's Tommy went back and forth for weeks trying to find a compromise. The Nederlander and the New Amsterdam are situated across from each other 41st Street (the front of the Nederlander faces the back of the New Amsterdam), so making a mad mid-show dash was theoretically possible. But, Jacobs' character in The Who's Tommy almost never leaves the stage, making such an idea functionally impossible. 

Unless you are a genie. Or have a tenacious team. 

"The first idea was for me to come out on the Aladdin Cart during 'Arabian Nights,'" Jacobs shared, referring to Aladdin's first entrance in the musical. "I was gonna ride out, and do the whole bit," Jacobs sighs before continuing on. "But that's like, 15 minutes into the show. Tommy had to start 30 minutes after Aladdin did, so that would have left me no time to change."

Back to the drawing board. A number of other ideas were rattled about and abandoned for various reasons, leaving Jacobs at peace with having to miss the Aladdin festivities. Then, an email came in from Aladdin's director Casey Nicholaw on March 26.

"It was right after the Aladdin rehearsal," Jacobs shares, referring to the expansion of the "Friend Like Me" number on March 28, which reunited previous Aladdin cast members from various productions over the previous decade. "He said, 'I've been racking my brain, and I had this idea. What if you come on stage during the monologue, and hand him the lamp?'"

In The Genie's opening monologue, before the curtain rises to reveal Agrabah, he has a small bit of prop humor regarding the show's iconic magical lamp. The moment, which is barely a minute into the show itself, was early enough that Jacobs could quickly join the Genie for the bit before sprinting across the street to make his mandated half-hour call at The Who's Tommy.

"It was brilliant," Jacobs marvels. "Disney used their phenomenal cosmic powers to make this work, down to the very last minute."

Alison Luff and Adam Jacobs Michaelah Reynolds

Jacobs March 28 was planned down to the minute. At 2 pm, he arrived at the Nederlander to distribute opening night gifts to the cast and crew, and make sure everything was set so that he could successfully execute the evening's mad dash. "At the Nederlander, you're going up and down five flights of stairs, just like they have at the New Amsterdam," Jacobs laughs. "I had to time it!"

A special secret exit and entrance into the Nederlander was revealed to him by the stage management team, helping him avoid the crowd outside of the theatre prior to the opening performance. At 4 pm, The Who's Tommy had its opening red carpet, with Jacobs dressed to the nines to celebrate the production before the performance. He also made his first cross-theatre run of the night, with a brief stop at the Aladdin 10th anniversary red carpet. At 5 pm, the Tommy company had their Legacy Robe ceremony. At 5:15 pm, Tommy director Des McAnuff called a last-minute rehearsal at 5:15 to re-stage the cast's bows. 

"I wasn't anticipating that!" Jacobs chuckled. "He wanted to include the swings and the other child actors in the opening night bows. Re-staging that took an extra 15 to 20 minutes that I didn't account for. But it was OK, because it still left me 15 minutes before the top of the show at Aladdin."

After that impromptu rehearsal, Jacobs ran out of the Nederlander and across the street to the New Amsterdam, trying his best not to be seen by the fans clustered outside both theatres. One clandestine glimpse could've ruined the whole surprise.

"A lot of people, even at Disney, didn't know that I was going to surprise them in the show, because it was so last minute," says Jacobs. So much so that when Jacobs got to the New Amsterdam: "No one had left the door open." 

Before anyone had time to panic, Aladdin's music director, supervisor, and conductor, Michael Kosarin, appeared out of the throng as if on cue. He let Jacobs in with his credentials.

Adam Jacobs and James Monroe Iglehart Marc J. Franklin

By the time he got inside, the cast of Aladdin was already in place, sharing the same energy circle ritual that Jacobs had helped establish 10 years prior. 

"Walking onto that deck was like a complete time warp. It was like stepping back in time, seeing all the colorful, beautiful props and going up to the stage manager's office." With no time for a run-through of his opening bit, the stage management team gave Jacobs his marching orders: enter stage left, meet the Genie (played by Michael James Scott) at center stage, exit stage right and run out the stage door as fast as he could.

His blocking memorized, Jacobs made it back to the Aladdin company before the end of the energy circle, slipping into the throng. "I saw all my friends from Broadway, people from the tour I had helped open, even some of the OGs from the Toronto production. As Michael James Scott led the energy circle, telling us to enjoy this moment how blessed we are, I got very choked up and emotional."

Jacobs continue, visibly moved. "What made it even even crazier, and even more special...When the downbeat of the overture started playing, it was dark on stage left, and hearing this music again, I looked down, and I was seeing my feet as they started to tap. Because I used to do this tap warm-up during the overture. I started doing it again, the body just took over, and it was like no time had passed." 

When the Genie emerged to begin the monologue and Jacobs made his entrance into Agrabah for the first time since 2017, the audience erupted to life. For his part, Jacobs stared down at the lamp in his hand, emotionally suspended between his past and his present. "Suddenly, I was running out and handing the lamp. And then, as I'm about to exit the stage, Michael James Scott yelled, 'Have a great opening at Tommy!' They had to pull me off the stage."

Adam Jacobs Tricia Baron

Emotional as he was, Jacobs made it back across the street in time, changed into his costume and gave his opening night performance in Tommy

But he was not done running. Before going to the opening night party of Tommy for a few hours, Adams again made a mad dash across the city to reach the Aladdin post-show party—reuniting with his Jasmine, Courtney Reed, and Genie, James Monroe Iglehart.

Speaking the day after, Jacobs could not believe his wild night, or how it was even possible. "The stars were in alignment, and for a moment there was this convergence of the millennia," Jacobs states. "I mean, when does this ever happen? How often does a show even get to 10 years, right? To have a show that I put so much of my heart and soul into succeed, and make it to 10 years and touch so many people, it's just such an incredible thing to witness. And then, the fact that they're both on 41st Street?! There's no way it would have happened otherwise, if they were anywhere else in Times Square. But they just happen to be right next door."

Jacobs pauses for a moment before saying brightly, "Now I can't do any show unless it's on 41st, I guess! I think we need to start a petition to rename 41st Street Jacobs Way or something. That little path I ran is mine now." Below, see photos of the anniversary celebration for Aladdin

Photos: Aladdin Celebrates 10 Years on Broadway

Aladdin opened at the new Amsterdam March 20, 2014, following previews that began February 26. The musical was nominated for five 2014 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. James Monroe Iglehart won the Tony for his performance as the Genie. Globally, there have been 11 productions of Aladdin on four continents.

The Who's Tommy officially opened at the Nederlander Theatre March 28 after beginning previews March 8. Based on The Who's 1969 rock opera Tommy, the musical follows the young Tommy Walker. After witnessing his father shoot someone, Tommy becomes deaf and blind. Then, an innate knack for pinball helps him rediscover the world and catapults him into celebrity status. The work is back on Broadway in a reimagined revival helmed by the musical's original director and co-book writer Des McAnuff.

Look Back at the Original Broadway Cast of Disney's Aladdin on Broadway

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