BWW Interview: Ben Jacoby in AS YOU LIKE IT at The Shakespeare Theatre of NJ through 9/29
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ) is now presenting the Bard's As You Like It. Directed by long-time company member Paul Mullins, this timeless love story has captivated audiences for centuries. The show will be performed on the Madison stage through September 29.
Travel with the exiled Rosalind and her entourage to the Forest of Arden, where, disguised as a young man, Rosalind woos the love-sick Orlando. The Forest is inhabited by a multitude of colorful characters, royal and rustic. The play contains some of Shakespeare's most eloquent speeches.
Broadwayworld.com enjoyed the opportunity to interview Ben Jacoby who plays Orlando in the As You Like It.
Ben is in his second season with the Shakespeare Theatre. Company credit: Love's Labour's Lost on the Outdoor Stage. Broadway: Over 3 years as "Barry Mann"in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. National Tour: "Raoul" in the 25th anniversary production of The Phantom of the Opera. Ben has appeared regionally at the Milwaukee Repertory, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Gulfshore Playhouse, Weston Playhouse, and Marriott Lincolnshire, among others. Television credits include appearances on The Good Wife, Madame Secretary, and Ava DuVernay's When They See Us for Netflix. He received his MFA from UC Irvine.
As the son of renowned performer, Mark Jacoby you must have had a lot of exposure to theatre arts at a young age. What was the very first show you ever saw that impressed you?
Perhaps the most memorable and impactful theatrical experience I had as a child was sitting in the house during a tech rehearsal for the musical, Ragtime. My father, who was in the cast, was bewildered by my interest in sitting through what he considered to be a long (and maybe boring) day at the theater as they labored through the extensive technical elements of the show. But I was kind of enthralled by the process of it all--it was fascinating to watch something on that scale come together.
What advice do you have for people interested in a career in the performing arts?
I hesitate to call anything I have to offer "advice." There are so many paths to a career in the performing arts and so many different ideas of what a "successful career" is. But here's what I can say: I was advised early on to try to remain versatile--to not pigeonhole myself into one particular "type" or medium. I continue to strive towards versatility and even though I continually fall short, I still consider it a worthwhile pursuit.
Tell us a little about the opportunity to perform at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.
In 2015 I played Berowne in Love's Labour's Lost on the outdoor stage and I've been anxious to come back ever since. The combo of high-quality-work, high-quality-environment and sense of community is so rare. The opportunity to return to the Shakespeare Theatre was an easy "yes" for me.
We'd love to know how you have prepared for the role of Orlando in As You Like It.
Bizarrely, maybe, As You Like It is one play I was less familiar with than others in the canon. So, I read the play a bunch--maybe three times before the audition. And since, I've watched every recorded version I can find. And...of course, spent a lot of time learning (and re-learning) the text.
Can you share with us any of your future plans?
Immediately after closing, I'll be returning to the cast of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical in New York. The respite from that show to do this one is an incredible privilege, but I'm honored to be able to re-join the show for its closing this October.
Tickets for As You Like It are available for both matinee and evening performances. The Theatre is proud to continue its 30 UNDER 30 program which provides patrons age 30 and under with tickets for only $30 with a valid ID. The F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre is located at 36 Madison Avenue, Madison, New Jersey on the Drew University campus. For tickets and more information, call the Box Office at 973-408-5600 or visit http://shakespearenj.org/.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ben Jacoby