“Once On This Island” and “Aladdin”
Follow Broadway's biggest stars during their breaks between matinee and evening performances. Join Isaac Powell of “Once On This Island” and host Garen Scribner for a haircut. See the amazing—and heavy—costumes from “Aladdin” with Arielle Jacobs. Go behind the scenes of Broadway’s biggest theatres as actors get ready for the curtain to rise.
Welcome to "Broadway Sandwich."
We're hanging out with your favorite Broadway performers
to find out what they do on their few short hours
sandwiched between their matinee and evening performances.
Join me as we find out what makes up the meat
in this Broadway sandwich.
♪ Oh, walk with me, little girl, and I'll take you far ♪
Scribner: This is Circle in the Square Theatre
where the Tony-winning revival of "Once On This Island"
is currently playing.
♪ Flying as free as a bird
♪ With its tail in the breeze
I've seen, like, videos of, like,
from the Tonys and all that stuff,
but, like, seeing it live was amazing.
Scribner: "Once On This Island" tells a story of Ti Moune,
a brave girl who falls in love with Daniel,
a wealthy boy from the other side of the island.
The island gods lead Ti Moune on a journey to reunite him
and to find out whether love transcends death.
This incredible show won the 2018 Tony Award
for Best Revival of a Musical.
I think it was just a great, immersive experience.
Like you were right in the presence of the energy.
Had you ever seen a show at theater in the round before?
Scribner: Our guest today is Isaac Cole Powell,
who plays Daniel.
♪ But you are as wild as
♪ That wind-blown tree
♪ As dark and as deep as
♪ The midnight sea
Scribner: What would you do in between performances
if you had to do two shows?
-I'd rest a minute. -Take a nap?
Well, no. You're too keyed up.
There's no way you could take a nap.
-Hey, bud. -Hi.
You were fantastic in the show.
Thank you. Thanks.
-How was it? -It was great.
-Yeah? -Yeah, it was a great audience.
We only have a few short hours before your next show.
-Yes. -Where we going now?
I need to get my hair cut,
so we're gonna go to Little Tony's.
-Okay. -It's right around the corner.
-So here we are. -Here we are.
Little Tony & Igor Be Good, cute.
There's a lot of sand in my hair.
I'm just warning you.
So you literally just graduated college.
The first thing that happened out of college
essentially was booking a lead on Broadway.
Yeah, basically. I just couldn't believe it.
My whole body went hot and numb.
You know, I walked around like a zombie for, like,
three days just thinking, like,
"What is the next year of my life gonna look like,
and what's gonna change,
and what is this experience gonna be?"
And how has the reality of this experience
matched up with your expectation of what it would be like?
-Really? -Yeah, honestly.
As much work as I thought it would be,
maybe a little more.
You know, I always imagined how cool it would be to be
part of this Broadway community, and it's been even more special
than I probably could've imagined.
So we came up for my senior showcase,
my graduating senior class at UNC School of the Arts.
We came up, and we did our showcase of songs and scenes
for, you know, all of the casting agents
and agents and managers in New York.
-Yeah. -And from that, we sort of got
picked by some people to be signed for representation.
So that's how you got an agent.
That's how I got an agent.
-Okay. -But also from the showcase,
I got an audition for "Hamilton,"
and so I had auditioned for "Hamilton,"
and when I went in, they were like,
"Oh, you know, we're also looking for someone
to play Daniel in 'Once On This Island.'
When could you come back to the city to audition for this?"
And so while I was on a lunch break from "Nikola Tesla,"
I went in and did my audition,
and, you know, like it does,
you don't hear anything for a while,
and then, one day, I got the call
while I was working at another job in Pittsburgh.
-Ah, PCLO. -Yeah, at PCLO.
That's where I just came from. I did "Brigadoon" there.
I mean, like, it was the most exciting thing
that had ever happened to me at that point in my life.
People started talking about awards season, like,
once we were in previews.
Our cast winning a Tony, like,
that didn't even occur to me, and then that happened.
That was extraordinary.
It's surreal. It's really surreal.
Okay. You are looking good, my friend.
Thanks. All right. Where are we off to now?
I need to feed my squishy babies.
-What? -Follow me.
-So here we are at Petland. -Yes.
And we are gonna get squishy-baby food.
-Yeah. -What does that mean?
So, my squishy babies are my tree frogs.
-Okay. -I have two pet tree frogs.
Their names are Reggie and Sophia.
Aw. And they're super cute and precious,
but they have to eat live bugs.
They won't anything dead or anything that doesn't move.
They need live crickets.
So they're raw-food enthusiasts.
They're raw, live food enthusiasts.
Yeah, yeah, for sure.
I need two dozen large crickets.
-Two dozen? -Yeah.
-Okay, for sure. -Thank you.
Here you go.
Ah, thank you very much.
Can I get a ginger bowl?
This is my favorite thing. I get it every time I come.
-So, dish. -What?
Dish about your boyfriend, Wes.
He's the best.
So we went to the same school, and we met there,
so we kept in touch throughout the years,
and then we both booked our shows right at the same time,
and then we started dating.
Our shows opened one day apart.
And are both leading men on Broadway.
-Yeah. -How cute is that?
You and Wes sometimes hang out between shows
because he's right over here at "SpongeBob" at the Palace.
Right there at "SpongeBob,"
and I'm right there at "Once On This Island."
So this is like a perfect meeting spot.
It's right in the center.
So is he gonna come by today?
I think so. I think he's coming.
-Baby. -Hey, hey.
How's it going?
Ladies and gentlemen, we have Wes Taylor,
the incredible Wes Taylor,
who has starred on Broadway in "Addams Family,"
"Rock of Ages," and "SpongeBob SquarePants."
You're a star, my friend.
-Well, hey, thanks. -We have two stars with us.
I love this.
What do you get up to in between your two shows?
Usually, if I don't stay active, go to the gym or something,
I get really tired for the second show.
So, like, you kind of have to keep your energy up
so you can last the whole day.
See, people find this unbelievable,
that after a show and before a second show,
you would go and then physically exert yourself.
All right. That was satisfying.
You guys fulfilled? -Yeah.
We have to get you back to your show.
-Bye. -Have a good show.
-Thank you. -Bye.
Isn't he the worst?
[ Laughs ]
You guys want to come look around inside?
-Would love to. -Sweet.
Let's do it. Okay.
Wow. I just love this theater so much.
Yeah. It's a really great one.
There's not a bad seat in this house.
No, 'cause it's so intimate.
It's so small already,
and even the people who have standing room,
when you're standing right here, it's a really great view.
And my dressing room is this way.
So this is my dressing room... -All right.
...that I share with Alex Newell...
-You and... -...who's not here right now.
Scribner: ...Alex Newell, who is brilliant. Yeah.
It's a really good size for two people, but no more.
I've been seeing lots of dressing rooms,
and this is pretty good. -Yeah.
Private bathroom in New York City in Times Square.
[ Imitates fanfare ]
-That's nuts. -That's it.
And so can you explain the under-sink...
-So down here -- -...nest area?
Yeah, so this is where we nap between shows
so that we can take a little nap.
Ladies and gentlemen, the luxury of Broadway.
Yeah. Under the sink.
6-foot whatever Isaac Powell, gorgeous,
sleeping under 4 feet of sink.
And then there's, like, all of this mail.
I'm really, really bad.
I hope nobody is watching this, looking at that and saying...
-So, the fans, if you haven't... -..."That's my mail."
...heard from Isaac, he's gonna get to it.
I promise you. He's gonna get back to you soon.
And then my plants and my frogs...
Frogs. Frog dad?
-Yeah, frog dad. -I love it.
And then I also -- I love Frida Kahlo.
I get a lot of Frida Kahlo pins,
and some people tell me that I look like her, too.
I can see it.
When I was in college, I had a --
I'd grown out my unibrow.
-Uh-huh. -It's a phase.
My very sandy boots are down here.
Look at this. That's real sand...
It's a lot of sand.
...from the stage, which is essentially an island.
Real sand from New Jersey, but it's real sand.
You play Daniel in this show,
who comes from kind of the other side of the island.
And the show talks a lot about sort of where you come from
and what color your skin is. -Mm-hmm.
What would you say that you connect with,
with Daniel in the show in terms of who you are
and where you come from and how you identify?
Yeah, so Daniel, his biggest issue throughout the whole piece
is having trouble crossing the social barrier...
-Hmm. -...which is something that,
being a mixed-race person, I've grown up feeling.
Like, I -- It's hard to feel like I belong
to one or the other group, and yet I feel so connected
to each of them individually, but it's sort of, you know,
where do I fit into the middle of this?
When there are some people who fit so perfectly into one
or the other, where do I end up?
And so that's kind of what Daniel is going through
when he falls in love with Ti Moune,
and he wants to be able to have her,
but because of the way that his society is structured, he can't.
So that's been a really interesting sort of struggle
to go through every day.
So what people may not know at home is,
there is one person in the theater who runs everything...
Justin. ...which is the production stage manager,
which is my brother, Justin Scribner.
So we were just talking about the show
and how complicated it is.
It's got kind of every possible variable going on.
It's got, like, children, sand, rain, fire, glitter, petals.
So essentially everything that they say not to use.
And they do all work kind of magically together.
They really do. It's so beautiful.
But it's a lot of old-school theater magic.
Yeah. All right, all this talking about the stage,
I have to see it. I have to go on it.
I have to put my feet in the sand.
-Let's do it. -Can we do it?
-Yeah. -Okay. I'll follow you.
On to the goats.
It's the real stars of the show.
The actual stars of the show -- Deena the chicken.
Hey, Deena. I actually grew up with chickens
'cause my parents keep chickens for --
-Really? -Yeah, for eggs.
I live in Brooklyn, and people are starting
to do that there too so...
Aww. -They get so excited.
So kale, is this their favorite food?
Give me a leg. Give me a leg.
-Oh, yeah. He's doing it. -Yay!
And leg. -More than -- Oh, that's a leg.
They have a farm up in Nyack
that they live at when they're not here.
-It's not a bad life. -Yeah, not at all.
It's kind of the one I'm looking for.
-So this is the set. -This is it.
We are on the island.
I'm sure you can feel it under your feet. Uh-huh.
The sand is probably a couple inches deep,
and just below it is a very thin nude-colored carpet.
Dancing on sand is not easy... -Not easy.
-...in general. -No.
So just having that surface under it is --
It supports us.
-Yeah, absolutely. -But it is really challenging.
I mean, every muscle in your feet and in your legs
is constantly trying to keep you on balance
while you're also throwing your weight around,
and you're dancing.
All of our monitors so that we can hear the music
are really smartly designed to be in these...
...like, crates and tires and things.
And so monitors are the speakers that we hear
when we're singing onstage. -Yeah.
And so normally they have these big ones on the proscenium,
but here they must have --
They have to be hidden like you said.
Yeah, so they're all around,
just sort of hidden in the garbage.
So tell us what it's like, I mean,
'cause literally the audience is --
The audience, their feet --
Powell: Yeah, their toes are in the sand.
Normally, there's at least an orchestra pit,
and there's sort of... -Yeah.
...a lighting change that's so dramatic
that you can't see faces, so what is that like to perform
this close to somebody watching you?
It's super intimate, so you're really getting
a lot of instant feedback from these people
because you can see their faces.
They're two feet away from you.
Most of time, I'm dancing right almost on top of somebody.
Have you ever tripped on somebody?
-Yes, in the aisles for sure. -Oh, no.
People like to leave their feet out in the aisles.
Keep your hands and elbows
and arms and legs inside the vehicle...
-Please. Please. -...at all times, people.
But certainly I can see
how people are reacting the whole time
because there really isn't a fourth wall in our show.
This whole set is like a playground,
but this is probably the most fun
that I have playing around on the set is in the water.
I get to enter and exit through it.
How deep does it get?
You know, right here, it's about ankle-deep,
and then the further you go down,
it's sort of raked downward,
so it's probably maybe mid-thigh on me
by the time you get to the bottom.
Wow. Now is it cold?
-No, it's actually heated. -Oh, great.
So by the time the show has started,
it's about like bathwater temperature.
Perfect. That feels nice.
Yeah, it's kind of nice. Sometimes, I'll, like, dip...
-Put some Epsom salt in there... -...all the way down.
some lavender, essential oils.
-Oh, yeah, for sure. -Nice.
-Yeah. -And it also rains onstage.
It does rain onstage, so just above you,
there are three cylinders that rain pours down
from during or after the song called "Rain."
And I lay down, and I writhe in the rain.
Is that water cold?
That water is not always the same temperature,
so sometimes it's cold.
You got do your second show. -Yes!
-Thank you for having me. -You were wonderful.
It's been really fun spending time with you there.
Yeah. -Great. All right.
-See you soon. -I'll see you soon.
Today, we're at the New Amsterdam Theatre,
home of Disney's smash hit, "Aladdin."
Our guest is none other than Princess Jasmine herself,
Arielle originated the role in Australia
before moving to Broadway.
The matinee is about to end,
and she'll be out here any second.
-Are you going that way? -Yeah.
-Hey, Arielle. -Hey!
How are you?
-Good. -How are your show?
Nice to meet you. It was awesome.
Nice to meet you. Yeah?
These people are crazy for you.
Love that you signed all the programs.
I always sign all the autographs.
So what do we have in store for us today?
We have a few things. We're gonna take you backstage,
give you a tour... -Okay. Perfect.
...do a little workout with you, little training.
-Not too hard, right? -Not too hard.
Don't make me too sore.
And then we're gonna get some food.
-You want to get started? -Yeah, let's do it.
-Come on. Let's go. -Okay.
This is the palace, AKA Jasmine's dressing room.
-So cute. -Thanks.
It's like the inside of a clay pot, a magical clay pot. Yeah.
I love the feeling of terra-cotta and this color
that kind of feels, like, Moroccan.
I have my rug here that...
-It's beautiful. -...is very Moroccan.
I wanted to make it feel homey and inviting and cozy,
and I like my terraniums. I have my...
-That's so cute. -...air plants.
This is my tiara.
It, like, transforms me into Jasmine.
The earrings are very heavy.
Yeah, they seem like they would be.
And so whenever I'm running backstage,
I actually hold onto them.
Otherwise, they hit me in the face like that.
Scribner: There's so many beads on this and stuff.
So many beads.
Any mishap, any getting caught in a track
or caught in a door for anything?
Not in a track or in a doorframe,
but they constantly fall off into my shoes.
-Into your shoes? -Yeah, so while I'm onstage,
I'm feeling little beads between my toes.
-Oh, no. -Yeah, they're gorgeous.
You know, it has the long slit. -Okay.
Did you ever dress up as a Disney princess as a child?
I actually dressed up as Aladdin.
-You did? You preferred Aladdin? -Yeah.
-Forget Jasmine. -I did.
I was Aladdin. -Wow.
For my talent show in, like, fourth grade
I sang "A Whole New World" with my friend, Lindsey.
Aw. And she was Jasmine, and I was Aladdin.
I did this one-woman show off Broadway.
Yeah. It was called "Farhad, or The Secret of Being."
My entire set was this rug.
I get some really amazing fan art.
You and your brother, of course, who --
Adam Jacobs, who played Aladdin...
-Yeah. -...in the show.
Yeah. He's the original Aladdin.
So while Adam was performing "Aladdin" on Broadway,
I was performing Jasmine in Australia.
Okay, so I see the poster over here.
I also see the physical copy of your album...
-Yes. -...which you have to show us,
and I love holding physical albums because...
Oh, here you go.
...everything is so digital nowadays, you know?
-I know. -Like, I just need to touch it.
I listened to this whole thing, and I --
It's -- Your voice is just astounding.
This is where we keep all the wigs.
Every single wig is made, you know,
strand by strand with human hair,
so it takes a very long time.
Scribner: This is the real, real human-hair stuff.
They kind of create a head wrap... Yeah.
...made with, like, plastic cellophane...
-Yeah. -...and packing tape
so that it's exactly the shape of your head
when they create the wig.
Here we are backstage.
It's so big.
-It is really big. -It's so big and airy.
So many Broadway theaters, it's just, like, squished.
-Mm-hmm. -You guys have some space.
-Come this way. -Okay.
We actually still have to send the set pieces up into the sky,
the wings because there's a huge set,
and there's not enough space offstage for the set.
Yeah. I mean, this is a big old musical.
This has got big pieces, big costumes, lots of costumes...
These are the lamps.
There's several lamps in our show.
This is the smallest of the lamps... Okay.
...'cause this one actually hides in Genie's pocket.
This is a Jafar staff.
-Oh, wow. -One of them.
There's two of them. -Wow.
Look into my eyes.
And this theater has so, so, so much history. Yeah.
I'm looking up at the Ziegfeld Follies,
ladies, the OGs. -Yeah.
Right here on the floor,
this is a piece of the original
"Lion King" floor that they saved.
So hanging up there is actually a piece of the set
from "Mary Poppins" on Broadway.
It's a big, giant green header that
was the top of either the bank or the house.
This is called the bunker... -Wow.
...where they do their quick changes.
So here is a sample of what one of the ladies
wears in the wedding scene.
-Wow. -And I wanted you to hold it
so you can get an idea of how heavy these costumes are.
Oh, my God. Oh.
You weren't kidding. -No, they're very heavy.
This probably weighs 15 pounds.
I mean, all of the layers of fabric...
-Maybe more. -...and all of the crystals
and the beads -- -Gosh.
All the costumes are covered in Swarovski crystals.
Over here, we have our PT room.
See some more costumes and hats.
You can see the pit.
-Amazing. -So you can see right now
this is where the musicians play the score.
This is a big orchestra.
I wonder how many people are in here.
It's a lot.
Our picture wall of some of the cast.
This is my brother, so this is...
-Hey, Adam. -...Adam Jacobs, the OG Aladdin.
This theater is supposedly haunted by a ghost.
I think it was a Ziegfeld Follies girl.
Her name is Olive. -Okay.
And people have seen Olive around.
And someone took a picture into an empty space
and got that image.
This is Olive.
-Wait. -Yeah, this is the ghost.
So this is taken out of this?
This is taken out of, like, this dark area.
Yeah, Olive lives here. She's a friendly ghost.
Okay. Hi, Olive.
-Yeah. -I come in peace.
So this is Lot 41.
This is one of the rehearsal spaces
in the New Amsterdam Theatre. -Cool.
This is JJ.
So nice to meet you. -So good to meet you.
JJ is my fiancé, and he trains me.
-I love that. -Sure do.
-Thank you for meeting us today. -Absolutely.
So we want to find out what you guys get into
between shows and how this works. Yeah.
There's really the two big strength days.
That's a lot of gymnastics and calisthenics,
rings, rope climb, and that's mainly about
your arms, your chest, and your back.
There's a rings day where we do gymnastics rings,
chin-ups, and rows and rope climbing.
I feel like Lara Croft, tomb raider.
Well, Jasmine has a lot of that too, right?
She's a strong girl. -Yeah, exactly.
And in the movie, she pole-vaults across rooftops.
-She pole-vaults. -Yeah, that's true.
I forgot about that. -Yeah.
So there's no pole-vaulting in this version?
-Not today. -No.
Today is our day that's a little bit more yoga-ish.
The yoga-ish stays primarily shoulder-based.
-Mm-hmm. -So we're trying to get a lot
of shoulder mobility and spine mobility.
You want to be strong, but you want to be flexible.
All right. Let's do it.
-Let's do it. -Okay.
Training with your fiancé, most people go do that elsewhere
so they can get yelled at by somebody else.
He doesn't yell at me.
-I believe it. -He's actually pretty nice.
So this is like a ballet first position with your hands.
And then a little side-to-side action.
-Ooh. -Yeah. Reach.
Reach our hands up.
Into Warrior Two.
And cyclone the left arm under.
You kind of can breathe there.
They say that you are only as young as your spine,
so it's very important to keep the spine flexible.
So now we're -- Now we're done!
Yay! That was amazing.
And a little, tiny step for the bone?
-Ready? -Do it.
Oh, this one?
♪ Da, da, ti, da, da, ti, da, da, ti, da, da, ti ♪
Those are good! -Ah!
Really hard on a yoga mat.
Whoo! That was fun.
-We had fun. -That was a great workout.
-Yeah, yeah. -It was yoga-ish.
It was nice and challenging, though. I love that.
So I still can't believe you do that between shows.
People are gonna have a hard time believing
how much actual exercise you do in one day.
So where are we off to now?
Let's go get some dinner.
-Yeah, go grab some grub. -Thank you so much.
Take care. Bye. -Bye.
-After you. -Okay.
Let's see what we got.
They got smoothies. They got juices.
They got everything.
I usually get some sort of smoothie... Yeah.
... like, a protein smoothie or sometimes a fresh juice.
So, you're playing one of the most iconic princesses
of all time eight times a week.
Do you ever feel, like, some kind of,
I don't know, responsibility or some kind of allegiance
to playing the role as people expect it to be,
or do you make your own character?
How do you --
Well, everyone has their own expectations
for what Jasmine meant for them.
I was really nervous and, like, putting pressure on myself
like I need to live up to this thing.
But it wasn't good for me because it didn't allow me
to really have my own creative journey
of finding the character within myself.
Now, did you always know that you'd end up on Broadway?
When I was in high school, I loved science.
I loved biology, and I loved the environment,
and I thought maybe I would go to school
for environmental science, so I applied to colleges,
half of them for science and half of them
for theater and music because I wasn't sure
which one was going to be the one that I ended up doing.
Hmm, and so how did you make your ultimate decision?
Well, this one didn't --
I didn't get into any schools for science!
And all the art schools wanted you?
-Yeah! -There you go.
I was like, "Oh, I'm gonna be on Broadway.
I can be on Broadway."
I felt so confident.
Then you get to the real world, and you see how hard it is.
I think you have to really believe that you can get there
and that you're good enough.
It also kind of informs all of the hard work and dedication
and the daily stuff that you put into it
because it takes hard work,
but it takes believing in yourself,
and as long as you have that first to support all of that,
maybe it works in tandem.
'Cause if you start from a place of,
"I don't think I'm good enough,"
then why would you keep working for it?
Yeah, there's nowhere to go.
This business is full of so many up and downs as we all know...
...you know, auditioning, getting a great job...
Working, not working...
-...not working... -...unemployment...
...quitting the business... -Yeah.
-...family stuff. -Mm-hmm.
So there's so many ups and downs,
but right now you are on a major high.
I'm on a carpet ride around the world.
You really are, starring in a Broadway show.
You have an amazing fiancé.
-Mm-hmm. -Everything seems pretty great.
Album just came out.
Your album just came out.
My first one ever.
So what does that feel like, and do you have to, like,
pinch yourself to make sure it's real?
Yes. Right now, everything in my life
has kind of swung in this upward direction.
And I feel really, really blessed,
and I know that it doesn't last forever,
and so it's really important to remind myself
that this is, like, the happy times.
This is, like, the moments that I'm gonna be remembering
when things get hard. -All right.
So we got to get you back to the theater.
-I know. Show's coming up. -You cannot be late.
-Let's do it. -Show must go on.
Thank you so much for spending time with me today.
Thanks for tagging along.
It was so cool getting to know what you do between shows.
Thanks for coming...
-And you are -- -...and being game.
I'm absolutely game, and you are a real-life Disney princess.
Thank you. But real princesses have to work,
so you have to do your second show.
Yeah, I got to go ride a magic carpet.
All right. Have a great one.
-Okay. Bye! -See you. Bye. Thank you.
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