Hometown: Half Moon Bay, California
Currently: Making his Broadway debut as Marius, who storms the barricades and wins the heart of fair Cosette in the Broadway revival of Les Miserables.
The Sports/Stage Dilemma: An all-star soccer player at St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco, Jacobs eventually had to make a choice between jockdom and the arts. "In my heart, I wanted to do theater," he says, crediting a drama teacher and his younger sister Arielle now touring in Disney's High School Musical for urging him to pursue his love of music. After graduating from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Jacobs began a series of hero roles, including the Prince in a national tour of Cinderella, Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Bucks County Playhouse and, eventually, Marius in the national tour of Les Miz.
Filipino? Latino? Jacobs' dark good looks inspire endless speculation about his ethnicity. "My dad is Jewish, Russian, Dutch and Polish," he explains, "and my mom is Catholic and Filipino. I was raised Catholic and went to a Jesuit high school. Most people think I'm Latino. Right away they say, 'Oh, are you Cuban or Dominican?' I've gotten everything under the sun, to be honest. I see myself as American, in the sense that I'm a mix—and I've been able to use that to play a variety of roles." Jacobs' Filipino heritage has gotten the most attention lately, given the presence in Les Miz of Lea Salonga as Fantine and Ali Ewolt who's half Filipino as Cosette. "Lea is a huge draw in the Filipino community," he notes, "and Ali and I have gotten to ride on her coattails a little bit. It's cool."
Marius Is Not a Wimp! Jacobs revels in his character's epic arc, which ranges from intense battle scenes to falling in love at first sight. But isn't Marius a little too perfect? "I've seen it played as a kind of simpering, puppy-love role," he admits. "But even though he is young and naive and oblivious, I think Marius can have a little more backbone. I've tried to make him more grounded, and I feel like it's worked."
Two-Career Couple: Before deciding to marry, Jacobs and Kohnert became experts in managing a long-distance romance. "A few months after we met, she went to work at Tokyo Disney for seven months and we talked almost every day," he says. "Our phone bill was huge and I flew there a couple of times—and we've been together ever since." While Jacobs was preparing for his Broadway debut, his bride was playing Bombalurina in Cats in Utah, then came home to appear in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a gig she'll repeat this year. "Since we're both in the business, we know the pitfalls and the things to avoid," he says. "I don't need to get involved in any work-related drama because I've got a life to go home to."
Soul Patrol: Contracted to Les Miz through the fall, Jacobs says, "I'm keeping my eye out for other jobs, but I'm very happy where I am right now." One dream for the future: recording a CD. "I listen to a lot of R&B and soul and classic rock—people like John Legend and Rufus Wainwright," he says. "I would probably do a mix of that and some standards. I have a very legit voice, but I also like to rock it out!"