A Whole New World – Aladdin’s Arielle Jacobs on playing Jasmine and those magic carpet rides

The incredible Broadway production of Aladdin is still enjoying it’s Australian run at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre. We’ve been catching up with the productions principle cast to find out a little bit more about the show, and how’re they’re finding Australia and it’s audiences. Last week we brought you our chat with Genie, Michael James Scott – today it’s the turn of Arielle Jacobs, who’s bringing Jasmine to life in the Australian production.

What did you think about the original songs composed for the show and do you have a favorite number in the show?

I love the original songs composed for the show. In fact, two of my favorite songs in the show are new ones that weren’t in the film! My first is the duet “A Million Miles Away,” when Jasmine and Aladdin are dreaming of a life away from their current troubles. The melody in that song is so beautiful, and it really shows the infectious excitement that they feel together, even though they barely know each other. My other favorite is the song “High Adventure” in Act 2, when Aladdin’s friends come to his rescue. It is absolutely brilliant and hysterical— definitely a highlight of the show for me, even though I’m not even onstage!

How did you psyche yourself up the first time you went on that magic carpet ride?

The first time I went on the magic carpet ride, I was more excited than I expected! I don’t know why exactly, but I underestimated how thrilling it actually is to be flying to so high above the stage! It’s not exactly scary (since I’m not afraid of heights), but it is surreal to have such a drastically different view from up there. The audience is so far below you, and it’s amazing to hear their reactions and applause when the carpet first takes off and spins around magically in the air. It’s my favorite part of the show every night.

What has Jasmine’s relationship with her 3 best friends taught you about the importance of friendship in your own life?

Jasmine’s relationship with her three best friends, her only friends, is highlighted in only one scene in the show… the moment before she gets the idea to run away and escape the confines of the palace. But it’s clear that she confides in them, and absolutely trusts their guidance. What’s beautiful about their friendship is that they are supportive and empathetic, but they can also laugh and poke fun at each other. By the end of the scene, they convince Jasmine to be brave and take the leap into the unknown, by reminding her that she is stronger than she thinks she is. I hope that I can honor my friends in my real life in the same way- by giving them courage and reminding them of their own strength.

The costumes are incredible- it must make it pretty easy to feel like a princess every night?

The costumes are divine, albeit heavy! They are loaded with Swarovski crystals, sparkle like nobody’s business, and they are perfectly fit to my every curve. (And also give me some curves where I wish I had them naturally- but shhhh… don’t tell anyone that)! My tiaras are the most stunning crowns I’ve ever seen, and when one gets attached to my head, I feel like I’ve literally stepped out of a fairy tale. They really complete my transformation into Princess Jasmine.

Especially coming into the Australian theater market from New York, were you nervous stepping into these roles and the expectations people had for you?

When I came from New York City, I was definitely nervous stepping into the Australian theatre market for a couple of different reasons. First, I heard that there was some backlash from the public who were upset that the role wasn’t being played by an Aussie. So I knew that I had to work even harder to convince those people that I could, and would, do the character justice (which I hope that I have). And second, I was nervous that people would think I was only cast in the role because my older brother, Adam Jacobs, originated the role of Aladdin on Broadway. I wanted to show everyone that I earned the role, and it wasn’t a hand-out based on family relations. I had to audition just like everyone else, and since the moment our director, Casey Nicholaw, picked me to play Princess Jasmine, I’ve been aware of how lucky I am to be able to ride the magic carpet every night.

What’s on your list of things to do while you’re in Australia, and what have your experiences been like so far?

While I’m in Sydney, I’d definitely like to experience all of the touristy spots, and find some hidden gems as well. I’ve already climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge at twilight (which was stunning!) and I’ve visited the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains. I did the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, rode the ferry to Manly Beach, and saw a show at the Sydney Opera House! I’ve also discovered that the food in Australia is so fresh and delicious, and I’ve got my favorite cafes and restaurants that I frequent. There’s so much to experience, and I’m grateful that I’ll be here for a while to soak it all in!

Do you notice any differences between theatre audiences here and back at home?

I haven’t noticed any huge differences between the audiences here and back at home. Both audiences seem to love Aladdin, and have been very responsive during the show and afterward. There seem to be less people coming to get autographs at the stage door after the show, so maybe that’s less common in Australia than in New York. But the people who do meet us after the show are as excited as ever, and it’s a highlight to my day.

What’s your earliest memory of the iconic Disney film?

When I was child, I would watch the animated film of Aladdin on VHS tape repeatedly at home. I loved it- the story, the music, the entire colorful life on the screen. I used to sing “A Whole New World” with my best friend from school, and we sang it together in a talent show when I was nine years old. Although, at the time, I played Aladdin and she played Jasmine!

Tell us a little bit about what it’s like working with Ainsley (Aladdin) almost every night?

I feel so blessed to be sharing the stage with Ainsley every night. His portrayal of Aladdin is crystal clear, full of heart, humor and suave confidence. He’s absolutely perfect. And as a scene partner, he is always completely present with me onstage. He is giving 100% at every show, and living the journey of the show every single night. Some actors phone-it-in, or give less of their energy to conserve it for the rest of the shows that week. The ones who don’t, are such a gift to the audience and their fellow actors. Ainsley is an actor whom I trust, and deeply respect. And I hope that everyone has the chance to see him in this role.

What do you hope people take away from their experience at the show?

I hope that people who see our production of Aladdin leave the theater a little happier, and a little braver than they felt beforehand. By watching Aladdin and Jasmine carve out their own futures (by staying true to themselves and breaking societal boundaries), I hope that audience members of all ages feel inspired to do the same in their own lives. On top of that, an evening of joyous laughter and a magic carpet ride never hurt anybody! I can tell you that it’s a show that you and your loved ones will be reminiscing about for a long time.

Aladdin is currently enjoying performances at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, where it will play until November 20, 2016. For tickets and more details head HERE.

Photo Credit: Deen van Meer