A theatrical brother and sister get a chance to shine as themselves.
by Joel Benjamin
The Jacobs home must have been an extraordinary place to grow up if brother and sister, Adam and Arielle, are any evidence. Both have had successful performing careers: Adam is playing the title role in the Disney Aladdin, still running at the New Amsterdam Theater, and Arielle, just cast as Jasmine in the upcoming Australian Aladdin company has been in In the Heights and Wicked.
Arielle’s good theatrical fortune in Australia led these two fine looking, self-declared “ethnically ambiguous,” performers to contemplate the discomfort they would feel had they, in some bizarre twist of fate, been cast as the lovers, Aladdin and Jasmine. “As Long As You’re Mine” (Stephen Schwartz), “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (Elton John), “Sunrise” (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and “A Whole New World” (Alan Menken) took on a creepy feeling when sung by real life siblings! (How did Fred and Adele Astaire do it? More innocent times, probably.)
Their opening was a good-natured, mock disparaging “What Is this Feeling?” (Stephen Schwartz, from Wicked). (The answer to the song’s title is, of course, “loathing.”) They spoke lovingly of their grandparents and parents with photos shown on video screens. All the family influences—Jewish. Filipino and Japanese—contributed colorfully and meaningfully to how Arielle and Adam’s lives evolved. Their tales of their childhood were loving and rich.
Adam sang “Man Up” (Trey Parker/Robert Lopez/Matt Stone) about seeing Jesus and facing childish guilt. Arielle had her turn at funny self-deprecation in “Mess” (Ryan Scott Oliver), revealing that she was not the innocent little girl she often portrays. Further proof was the country-western ditty, “I’m a Bitch” (Meredith Brooks & Shelly Peiken).
Their love lives came under self-scrutiny. Areille sang Sarah Bareilles’ “Gravity” after a long story about an uneasy “open” relationship while Adam had an on-again-off-again relationship with a fellow performer. They were constantly and exasperatingly, separated by show business, but finally married and had children. “Get Here” (Brenda Russell) expressed his thoughts on love and he sang it passionately.
Their final two songs, “The World Will Remember Us” (Frank Wildhorn/Don Black, from Bonnie and Clyde) and “Somebody’s Got Your Back” (Alan Menken, from Aladdin), were upbeat and life affirming, sung with a zeal that revealed their love of theater and each other.
Aladdin’s Arielle & Adam Jacobs: Sibling Disobedience (May 29, 2016)
254 West 54th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue New York, NY
For reservations and information, call 646-476-3551 or visit www.54Below.com/Feinsteins