Adam Jacobs (right) with Jose Llana (left) and Ali Ewoldt.  (Photo by Carissa Villacorta)




Filipino-American theater actor Adam Jacobs may already be living his dream of performing the lead role of Simba on the Broadway company of the multi-award winning show “The Lion King,” but he couldn’t contain his enthusiasm for his upcoming part in the one-night only “Phil-Dev Celebrates Broadway: Suites by Sondheim” concert on Nov. 7.

Slated for the Alice Tully Hall at New York City’s Lincoln Center, the event will feature an all-Filipino cast of Broadway singers headlined by Lea Salonga performing the work of legendary composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

The cast includes lead performers from Broadway staples such as “Mamma Mia,” “Les Misérables,” “Spiderman” and more.

The concert will benefit PhilDev, a non-profit organization that has arranged benefit concerts for disaster aid, such as the October 2009 Lea Salonga concert at the Philippine Consulate in New York which raised nearly $100,000 for Typhoon Ondoy relief efforts.

“I can’t wait to start working on that because it’s a bunch of my friends, all Filipino-Americans coming together to do this show for a one night only event, that never happens,” said said Jacobs, who grew up in California’s Bay Area but now resides in Queens, N.Y.

“It’s history, and it’s going to be an amazing event. I can’t wait to do it.

“I’ve never done a Sondheim show myself, but I’ve loved every show that I’ve seen of his. His work is brilliant. As a lyricist and a composer, he’s like no other. To be able to sing his work in the concert, it’s going to be great. It’s just amazing work and I’m very excited to hear different interpretations from some of the best Filipino Broadway actors out there.”


Adam Jacobs performing in “The Lion King.”

The concert will reunite Jacobs with some former castmates, including Ali Ewoldt, whom Jacobs toured nationally for a year with on the revival of “Les Misérables,” as well as Ms. Salonga, with whom Jacobs starred alongside of in the Broadway revival of said play.

“It feels really good to be reuniting with my co-star Ali Ewoldt. To be able to sing with her a love song and reignite those flames again on-stage is going to be fantastic for me. And also to get to sing with Lea again, she was Fontaine in the Broadway revival. To have her there, and to have Ali there, and these amazing Broadway performers, they have so much talent. So to be able to share the stage with them and see them perform and to laugh and have fun, create and share, it’s going to be great, I can’t wait.”

Aside from “Les Miz” and “The Lion King,” Jacobs’ resumé also boasts the lead role in “Aladdin” and “Mamma Mia.”

Prior to taking over as Simba at the famed Minskoff Theatre just two weeks ago, Jacobs had toured nationally with the play for 10 months.

The role didn’t just fall out of the sky, however and required much persistence over the course of eight years.

“I was in college (at New York University Tisch School of the Arts) when the music director saw me in a show, we did ‘Songs for a New World’ and he pointed to me after the show and said, ‘Come here,’” recalled Jacobs, whose wife Kelly is currently working on “Mary Poppins.”

“This is Joe Church. He said, ‘I think you should come and audition for Simba, I think you’d be good.’

“I was blown away that he would come to me after a show and say that and so I called up Mark Brandon at Binder Casting and I auditioned. At first it didn’t go very well, but Mark Brandon gave me some notes and things to work on, and I came back and auditioned maybe four or five times before it worked out. I got better each time and I sort of grew into it. It was something that I wanted for eight years, that when it finally came through I was just amazed.”

Though Jacobs’ maternal grandfather is a full-blooded Filipino native from the Pangasinan province, Jacobs says he hasn’t yet visited the Philippines, but that it is high on his list of priorities.

“I wanted to go this year, but work just keeps getting in the way. Luckily I’ve had work, but I wanted to go this year and I didn’t get to go. I don’t speak Tagalog, I feel so mad at my mom that she never taught me, but what are you gonna do? I’d love a tutor, if anybody wants to come over, I’ll pay them.”

When asked jokingly what his budget would be for a tutor, Jacobs responded, “$100 an hour, that’d probably get me the best one.”


Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News and the Filipino Reporter newspaper in New York City.

He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

An archive of his work can be found at

Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia


The cast of the “Phil-Dev Celebrates Broadway: Suites by Sondheim” concert.  (Photo by Troi Santos)

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