‘Lion King’ welcomes Adam Jacobs as Simba


By Elton Lugay

He played the romantic rebel, Marius, in “Les Miserables,” and is now cast as the reluctant heir, Simba, in “The Lion King.”

But if you ask Adam Jacobs, he will tell you he’s only just begun. He would like to do more just as memorable roles on Broadway. There’s Tony, the lovestruck toughie in “West Side Story,” the Engineer pimp in “Miss Saigon,” and yet another romantic protagonist, Fabrizio Naccarelli in “The Light in the Piazza.”

Born to a Russian-Dutch-Polish father and a Filipino mother, Adam’s athletic build, olive skin and dark, brooding eyes make him ideal for lead roles. Not to mention a powerful singing voice that go from romantic to threatening.

Of Simba, the role previously portrayed by actor Clifton Oliver, it requires him to be nearly half naked and wearing a mask that symbolizes Simba’s journey into adulthood.

“My role is very physical and it’s also vocally challenging because it’s very high,” Adam told The FilAm in an interview at Bryant Park. “The role is very demanding. I have to make sure I stay in shape.”

“The Lion King” – the seventh longest-running show in Broadway history — features Elton John and Tim Rice’s music from the animated film. The musical has won more than 30 major awards, according to Playbill, including six Tonys. It’s playing at the Minskoff Theatre.

Adam was born and raised in Northern California, where his father, a Navy officer from Brooklyn, met his mother. Mom comes from Binalonan, Pangasinan.

“My father comes from a Jewish background, but I was raised Catholic,” said Adam.

He moved to New York five years ago for the love of theatre. To pursue his dream of breaking into musical theater, he went to school at NYU.

“I knew that this is the place I had to be,” he said.

He met his wife Kelly during a Christmas show in Hershey, Pennsylvania when they were touring as waltz partners. Kelly is from Wisconsin.

It was Adam’s sister who must have seen the looks and heard the voice. She suggested that Adam sing for her band.

“She was singing in a group called Razzle Dazzle. She convinced me to try it out and found out I had a little bit of natural talent for it,” he recalled.

Adam said he’d like to try television and film someday, and do more drama and less musical theater. “I’m always looking for opportunities to challenge myself.”

“I don’t really concentrate on what other people are doing as much. I’m just trying to better myself and to train and take acting classes, voice lessons—to keep up with my craft. I love to see as many shows as I can to see what works and what doesn’t. There are so many great shows here in the city so it’s great to do that,” he said.

Whatever the role, he added, “It’s the passion that drives me, and I just love to perform to tell a story.”

Adam: Easygoing guy

Adam describes himself as an easygoing guy.

“I don’t have many things that get me upset. I could be happy at home reading a book as well as playing chess in the park with the older gentlemen from different countries. That’s a little hobby of mine,” he said. “My wife will tell you that when it comes to games, I have to limit myself because I get hyper-focused . Otherwise I’ll lose myself and spend so much time.”

Adam joins Lea Salonga and other Filipino stage actors in a concert tribute to Stephen Sondheim on November 7 at the Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.

Elton Lugay is a journalist, publicist and community events organizer.

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