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Broadway's 'Aladdin' Casts Actor Telly Leung in Title Role

Telly Leung is scheduled to begin playing the role of Aladdin on June 13, replacing Adam Jacobs, who is joining the show's North American tour.
Telly Leung
Telly LeungLeon Le Photography

Actor Telly Leung has been cast as the title role in the Broadway musical “Aladdin,” taking over for actor Adam Jacobs, who earlier this year left to open the show's North American tour.

Jacobs, who is half Filipino and half white, had starred as Aladdin since the show opened in 2014. Leung is scheduled to begin his run on June 13.

Leung told NBC News in an email that he is thrilled to be joining the cast.

“The movie was a big part of my childhood, and it has a very special place in my heart … and getting to play a Disney prince is my childhood dream come true!” he said.

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Leung made his Broadway debut in 2002 in “Flower Drum Song,” which starred Tony Award-winning actress Lea Salonga. He most recently appeared on Broadway in “In Transit” and recently starred in “Allegiance,” a musical inspired in part by the life of actor and activist George Takei.

Leung's casting in the role of Aladdin comes at a time when Asian-American and Pacific Islander representation on Broadway remains limited. From 2006 to 2015, Asian-American actors accounted for 4 percent of performers on Broadway and in New York City non-profit theaters, according to the Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC), which has collected nine years of statistics on the diversity of theater actors.

While representation in theater had improved in recent years for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, with AAPAC noting that that group saw the greatest gains in representation, making up 9 percent of actors in Broadway and New York City nonprofit theater companies during the 2014/2015 season, several shows with large Asian-American and Pacific Islander casts have closed or left Broadway recently, including “The King And I” and "Allegiance."

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Last year, Broadway's "The Phantom of the Opera" announced its first Asian-American Christine.

“As a kid, I have such a vivid memory of my first Broadway show (which was CATS) and it warms my heart and gives me great satisfaction to know that I will be part of that next generation's Broadway scrap book," Leung said.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Adam Jacobs was leaving "Aladdin" to join the show's North American tour. He left "Aladdin" earlier this year to open the tour.