Growing up in San Francisco, Arielle Jacobs was so inspired by pop singers like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston that she asked her mother if she could take voice lessons. What she didn’t know at the time was that this early training would one day lead her to the Broadway stage.
The then-starlet got her start in the industry singing in her church choir, then with a children’s song and dance troupe with her brother, Adam, who is also a Broadway actor, known for having originated the role of Aladdin on Broadway.
Just before starting high school, his parents switched coasts, so Jacobs attended Princeton High School in New Jersey and moved to New York to attend NYU. She made her Broadway debut in “In the Heights” in 2010 and her impressive resume also includes the role of Jasmine in “Aladdin” on Broadway from 2018 to 2020.
Now she is playing the lead role in “Between the Lines”, a musical based on the book by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer, at the Second Stage Theatre. The cast of the show, which debuted last month, has become very tight-knit backstage on Broadway, where neighborhoods are close together and they have to share locker rooms. In fact, when Jacobs married actor JJ Caruncho in 2020, a group of her castmates attended the nuptials, including Picoult, who served as her unofficial dog sitter. “She held my dog in her lap during the reception and dinner,” Jacobs said.
Your Broadway debut was in “In the Heights.” Was Lin-Manuel Miranda in at the time?
Yes, I was in the final casting. I played Nina. This was after performing the role on the original national tour. Yes, I played opposite him on Broadway. I also played opposite him in LA, because when I did the tour, he came for the LA run. He’s so fun, he’s so present, he’s so playful. It really is a dream.
When did you move to New York?
I moved here for college, then moved to Los Angeles for several years, then came back here full time about 10 years ago.
How did you get started in the industry?
My brother and I were both in our church choir growing up and one day I asked my mom if I could take singing lessons because I was like in love with pop singers of the day like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. So my mom found me a voice teacher who taught in San Francisco, but also ran this children’s song and dance troupe called Razzle Dazzle Kids. So she put me in this troupe and we were just doing little shows all over the Bay Area.
Is it true that “Between the Lines” has been delayed twice?
Yeah, well, it was delayed the first time because it was 2020, and then the pandemic happened and it all stopped. And then when we were lucky enough to be able to come back in 2022, we were supposed to start previews on June 14th. And we did a preview, but then like half the cast went down with COVID, myself included. So we had to stop the show again because we didn’t have enough coverage. And now we’re back up and running, but it’s definitely been a bumpy road.
The musical is based on the novel by Jodi Picoult. How involved is she in the production?
Jodi was with us every day for the rehearsal process. Her and Tim McDonald, who wrote the book for our show, they really wrote all of this together. They both listened to everything we said and constantly made changes based on how things were going during rehearsals and what was coming or what felt more natural to say versus something else. So they were very active all the time. Even Samantha van Leer, who is Jodi’s daughter and co-wrote the book, came to rehearse several times to get her hand in the pot too.
What is the atmosphere behind the scenes? Is the casting close?
We love ourselves. It’s a big love party over there. It’s also very cramped, because you know, in an off-Broadway theater, there just isn’t a lot of space. So we’re a bit crammed like sardines backstage behind the scenes. But it’s really fun because we find certain moments to play off stage. As I have a moment with the character who plays Frump and Ryan, his name is Will Burton, he’s an amazing actor. Him and I have a fun time backstage where he literally jumps for 15 seconds and we do three rounds of Rochambeau before he comes back on stage.
And because of this theater, we actually share dressing rooms. As if I didn’t have my own dressing room. There is only one locker room for ladies and one for men. So we see each other almost every day because we prepare in the same space.
Do you have your favorite places around the theatre?
I would say most of the time I meet people on Ninth Ave, there’s a cafe on Ninth and 43rd, which is half a block from our theater. So often during the break, I will go there… It’s really a fun place to meet people.
Tell us about your solo album. When did you release this and will you release more records in the future?
My solo album came out in 2018 and it was based on my live solo show at 54 Below that I did in 2017. I’m talking to a friend about doing an album of more original music one day, but I’m not know when it will happen. But I still release covers and singles from time to time, like I released a single of the song “Speechless” which was from “Aladdin” and my brother and I recorded a Christmas duet which we released there. last year in December.
I saw a photo online of a gift you received from a fan when you played Jasmine. What memorable souvenirs have you received?
So many cool things. Especially when I was playing Jasmine. There are so many Jasmine fans, so I would get the coolest fan stuff. They used to give me these little Jasmine Pop dolls with big heads. I have a few. This fan, she painted a picture of me as Jasmine, like a giant 16 by 20 painting. And then for “Between the Lines,” so far, I’ve had some really cool stuff. I have this little keychain that someone made. It’s basically the book “Between the Lines”, but it’s like a charm and looks like it’s made out of paper, like a real book. It’s really cool. And then, of course, I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the fan art that people have been putting up, but oh my. Someone posted this illustration on Instagram of me reading a book and all the characters from the show. Someone saw our show and basically drew every person on stage.
So some of your colleagues from “Between the Lines” came to your wedding in Mexico?
Yes, Jeff Calhoun came with his husband and Tim McDonald came with his husband and Jodi came. And it was so amazing to have them there. In fact, Jodi sat for me during the ceremony and reception.
What dream role do you still want to play on Broadway?
I’m a big fan of Sara Bareilles and I never had the opportunity to be in “Waitress”, and I know it’s not touring anymore, but I would love to do that one day. I also love “Into the Woods” and I know it’s spinning right now. It was one of those cast albums I fell in love with as a kid and knew every word. I had the chance to play The Baker’s Wife in a regional production of this. My husband played The Baker and Tituss Burgess played The Witch. He was the very first man to play The Witch. It was an epic production in Miami at the DreamCatcher Theater.