TV game show ‘Jeopardy!’ to highlight ‘Aladdin’ on Thursday
AP Drama Writer
NEW YORK — The actor who plays Aladdin on Broadway has gotten yet another cool wish — a spot on “‘Jeopardy!’”
Adam Jacobs, who plays the title role in the new Disney blockbuster, will help represent the show Thursday when it appears as an entire category of answers.
“I think it’s going to be great exposure and get people excited to possibly see our show,” Jacobs said. “‘Jeopardy!’” has been around forever and Broadway has been around forever — at least in my lifetime — so it’s kind of cool the two worlds are meeting.”
This will be the third time the game show hosted by Alex Trebek has joined with a show to dedicate a whole category to a single Broadway offering. It also did so twice in 2013 for “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” and the 10th anniversary of “Wicked.”
“Jeopardy!” has long given Broadway a boost since its debut in 1984, offering such categories as “Broadway Musicals” and “Pop Singers on Broadway.” That’s priceless publicity for stage shows because “Jeopardy!” is seen by an average of 25 million viewers a week. Last season, total attendance on Broadway reached 12.2 million.
Actors from Broadway shows have also previously presented clues, including from “Mamma Mia!” “Jersey Boys” and “The Color Purple.” Playwright Edward Albee and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber even had their own five-question categories.
For a Broadway musical to get an entire category, the show has to be able to spark questions beyond the stage, said Rocky Schmidt, the supervising producer of the game show and a Broadway fan.
“We can’t really do a whole category if a lot of people haven’t seen the show, so there are only certain kinds of shows we can do this with,” he said. “Anything is fair game for a clue. Categories are always a challenge.”
“Aladdin,” based in the 1992, Robin Williams-voiced animated version has songs by theater legend Alan Menken including “Friend Like Me” and “A Whole New World” and is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw. It’s Genie, James Monroe Iglehart, won a best featured actor Tony last year.
Though sworn to secrecy, Jacobs did say that the actual source story for “Aladdin” is thousands of years old, was turned into a beloved film and has well-known songs. “That’s some of the source of the clues,” he said. The death of Williams over the summer didn’t alter the show since he wasn’t a clue.
Jacobs was joined in costume at the taping in August by co-stars Iglehart, Jonathan Freeman, who plays Jafar, and Courtney Reed, who plays princess Jasmine. The “Jeopardy!” team shot onstage at the show’s home at the New Amsterdam Theatre and included the musical’s marketplace and the Cave of Wonders backdrops.
All five clues will have mini-clips from the show including music and dancing. “People are actually going to get a little taste of what ‘Aladdin’ on Broadway looks and sounds and feels like,” Schmidt said.
Jacobs said he grew up watching “Jeopardy!” and remembers turning in to see contestant Ken Jennings’ famous run in the early 2000s. “I was never that great at answering the questions, it was a little bit out of my league,” Jacobs said. “But when they had the college kid versions, I did pretty well at that.”
It will be the latest TV appearance for Jacobs, the father of 1-year-old twin boys. He and the “Aladdin” team also sang and danced on “Good Morning America,” “The View” and the Tony Award telecast.
“I’m grateful for Disney for helping my star rise,” he said.