A Conversation with Gareth Jacobs

An interview with Beauty and the Beast the Musical Australia's Cogsworth



Since mid-2023, Australian audiences have been able to fall in love with Disney Theatrical Production’s official Australian production of Beauty and the Beast the Musical, offering the iconic story revolving around beauty being more than what is on the outside, a spectacular cast, and ultimately showing that even if it was the first animated feature film Disney adapted to the stage, they have kept adapting to to the standards of their modern musicals like Aladdin and Frozen, and is well deserving of the accolades it has received. This includes, a ★★★★★ 5-star review from yours truly, which you can read in detail HERE. Until Early June 2024, the musical is calling the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) home, which in the musical’s three-decade history is also the first time it has come to Queensland, before heading to south to Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Gareth Jacobs is no stranger to the QPAC Lyric Theatre stage. In 2018 he graced it in the leading role of the Genie in Aladdin the Musical’s Brisbane season, and then in 2022 as part of the cast for Mary Poppins the Musical. In 2024, Jacobs is back for another Disney musical and a principal cast role which allows him to showcase his comedic timing and triple threat skills, as the rule-loving majordomo and anthropomorphic pendulum clock, Cogsworth, in Beauty and the Beast the Musical.

Amidst their busy schedule, Gareth Jacobs has been kind enough to respond to some questions from me about their experiences in almost-a-year of performing as part of the Beauty and the Beast the Musical cast, checking in on how the Brisbane season has gone so far, and some of their insights for those looking to enter the performing arts industry.

A Conversation with Gareth Jacobs 1
Gareth Jacobs. Imagery Provided.

You have wrapped up the Sydney season of Beauty and the Beast the Musical and are now well into the second leg in Brisbane at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. How has the Australian tour been treating you so far?

The tour and the audiences have been absolutely amazing! Seeing and hearing how much everybody seems to be enjoying the show is the reason I love being part of this production of Beauty and the Beast. Brisbane has definitely shown up and been a wonderful second stop on our tour. We can’t wait to head to Melbourne next!

I remember you joining the cast of Disney’s Aladdin the Musical [as the Genie] just prior to its Brisbane season, and coming off the back of the tenure of long-time Broadway genie Michael James Scott, I remember being immensely impressed by how you brought that character to life – much like you have done with embodying the charm of Cogsworth. What has it been like getting to portray and originate another leading role in a Disney musical, and getting to reunite and work together again with Shubshri Kandiah?

I was actually part of Disney’s Aladdin cast and company since the beginning of the tour in Sydney. I was an offstage cover for the Genie, Babkak and the Sultan, and I was lucky enough to be able to perform all three roles before stepping into the Genie boots full time during the Brisbane season. Being able to put my stamp on such a well-known character and knowing I had ‘big shoes’ to fill was daunting, but so rewarding at the same time.

Shubshri Kandiah is such a consummate professional, and seeing her bring the story of Beauty and the Beast to life every night as Belle is gorgeous to see.

Cogsworth has a meticulous nature and, at least initially, an unwavering dedication to order and the rules, which leads to much comedic relief, essentially the “straight man” to the more eccentric Lumiere. How have you gone about approaching the role of Cogsworth, and are there any personal touches have you added to the role?

The blueprint of Cogsworth was already there with both the animated film and the brilliant script before me. I think bringing my own interpretation to the writing, and showing that there is more to him than keeping a tidy castle, has really helped to round out the character. Cogsworth has some really true and beautiful moments, which were fun to flesh out.

The chemistry between you and Lumiere (Rohan Browne) is in my opinion, one of the highlights of the production, serving as a foundation to much of the comedy in the first act in particular. What is the dynamic between the two of you like, and can you share any memorable moments in developing this on-stage partnership?

Believe it or not, the first time Rohan and I had a proper conversation was at a photoshoot, only a few weeks prior to beginning this journey! We soon realised that we had a fair bit in common and had a similar work ethic and sense of humour, which helped bring the relationship to life onstage. We check in with each other every day and make sure the other is in a good headspace for the show ahead.

According to our fellow ‘Enchanted Objects’ – which includes Jayde Westaby as Mrs. Potts, Alana Tranter as Madame and Hayley Martin as Babette – Rohan and I are like an old married couple at work!

As one of the “furniture” of the Beast’s manor, you get to spend eight shows a week dressed as an anthropomorphic pendulum clock. What it is like embodying such a unique type of character?

Playing Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast is so rewarding, but definitely challenging at times at the beginning. As a performer, I am very big on body language and using my body to help further and portray the story; and as my Cogsworth costume covers almost 70% of my body, this meant I had to find other ways to engage the audience. It’s been rewarding discovering new ways to tell the story through facial expressions and vocal choices.

As part of the Australian tour of Beauty and the Beast the Musical, you have performed to many hundreds of thousands of patrons. What have been some of your favourite moments engaging with theatre-goers, from ovations to experiences at stage door?

Just hearing the audience’s response throughout each show and knowing that they are on this journey with us is a joy! The most fulfilling part is hearing the kids in the audience uncontrollably bell-laughing at Cogsworth’s (at times) corny jokes. Knowing we have them on-side makes what we do so much more special!

Meeting people at Stage Door after the show and hearing them say that I was their favourite character doesn’t hurt either…

What were your earliest memories of watching Beauty and the Beast the film? And why do you think the works around the film, such as this musical, continue to resonate with audiences today?

I’m showing my age now, but I had Beauty and the Beast on VHS – and it was on high rotation for me as a child! The thing that continues to make this story so prevalent is the ideals of ‘not judging a book by its cover’, and that everyone has a place in this world no matter how alone you may feel at times. That, and the big group numbers full of singing, dancing and glitzy costumes!

What made you originally audition for the role of Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast the Musical?

When the audition brief came out for this production of Beauty and the Beast, I read through the roles on offer and Cogsworth just seemed to stand out. Cogsworth is, at times, like a parental figure to the Beast and, I guess, aligns with where I am in my life and my age. It just seemed like a good fit.

What advice do you have for those who hope to follow in your footsteps and seek out their own career in the performing arts industry?

It takes hard work and, at times, a little bit of stubbornness to break into the industry. So keep at it, and if it’s something you truly love to do, believe you can achieve it. This is a performance-based industry, so making sure that you are honing your skills and being the best you can be is very necessary.

Rapid-Fire Questions

Favourite song in Beauty and the Beast the Musical (Can be one of yours, can be another)

Definitely ‘Human Again’. It’s the Enchanted Objects allowing themselves to be wishful and hopeful for change!

Favourite moment in the show?

Babette’s solo dance in ‘Be Our Guest’. Hayley Martin is sheer perfection in the role.

Favourite piece of choreography in the show?

Cogsworth’s tap solo, of course!

Favourite costume in the show in general?

It has to be Belle’s iconic yellow ball gown in the dinner scene.

Favourite piece of staging / set design?

The enormous LED screen used throughout the show.

A Conversation with Gareth Jacobs 2
Gareth Jacobs, Hayley Martin, Shubshri Kandiah, Rohan Browne and the company of Disney’s Beauty and The Beast the Musical – performing Be Our Guest – Image Credit: Daniel Boud

Favourite moment with the cast/crew?

The backstage crew are the unsung heroes of Beauty and the Beast. Seeing how they ensure the show runs smoothly, eight shows a week, is amazing.

First impressions when walking into rehearsals on the first day?

Absolute terror which quickly turned into elation and joy!

Do you have a favourite pre-show ritual or routine?

Warm up with the company, and then checking in with my fellow Enchanted Objects to see how they are doing.

Favourite fun fact about Beauty and the Beast the Musical‘s Australian tour?

Cogsworth’s costume was redesigned and even changed colour for this tour.

Favourite moment of the tour so far?

Having my family and friends at the Australian Premiere in Sydney last year to celebrate with me!

Favourite Disney Animated Work?

Mulan and Pocahontas are very close contenders for front runner.

If you had the opportunity to fill another role in Beauty and the Beast the Musical for one night, with no limitations, what role would that be?

GJ: Madame De L’Amour played brilliantly by Alana Tranter… She has some great one liners and is CAMP!

What is something that people might miss on their first watch of Beauty and the Beast the Musical but should keep an eye out for?

The titles of the books in the library scene.

Something you are most looking forward to doing while in Brisbane?

GJ: I’m looking forward to trying the different restaurants and cuisines that Brisbane has to offer!

I would like to extend my sincerest thanks and gratitude to Gareth Jacobs for being so generous with their time to provide their thoughts and insights in responding to these questions. I wish them all the very best for the remainder of the Brisbane season, the upcoming Melbourne season and whatever lies beyond that.

Special thanks must also go to Disney Theatrical Productions Australia and the show’s publicity team at Peach and Pineapple for facilitating this opportunity!

Want more? You can read our interview with Shubshri Kandiah (Belle) from 2023 HERE, and my 2024 interviews with Jackson Head (GastonHERE and Rohan Browne (Lumiere) HERE. More interviews are planned to be released in the future, so keep an eye out for more insights from the Beauty and the Beast the Musical Australian cast soon.

Tickets to see the Brisbane (QPAC, Lyric Theatre) and Melbourne (Her Majesty’s Theatre) seasons of Beauty and the Beast the Musical are currently on-sale, with ticketing information for both states available via the musical’s official Australian website. The musical will run in Brisbane until 9 June 2024, where it will then travel to Melbourne to commence the third leg of its Australian tour in late-June 2024.

With the Easter school holidays almost underway in Queensland, Disney Theatrical Productions will also be offering extra midweek matinee performances on Thursdays and Fridays during the school holiday period. Plus, the 5-ticket buy offer, where guests can save $20 per ticket, has also been extended for the holidays and is available for all midweek matinees, midweek evening and Sunday evening performances until 14 April 2024. Furthermore, Disney Theatrical Productions are offering accessible performances, including a ‘Relaxed Performance’ in May, more information on which can be found HERE.

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