Carmel High School graduate gets key role in ‘Aladdin’ national tour


Jake Letts was immediately interested when he heard “Aladdin” was auditioning for a new cast for an upcoming North American tour.

Represented by Tara Rubin Casting, Letts got a call within two days. Although one could send in audition videos, Letts traveled to New York to audition in-person and returned for each callback.

ND ALADDIN 1115 Letts head shot

“I’ve always wanted to be one who, if I can get myself in a room, I want to show up and show out,” Letts said. “I want to show with my physical presence I really care about this work and getting an opportunity. I flew out to New York three or four times in total for these callbacks. After the last time, I called my agent and said I don’t think I’m in the show. I had a bad feeling after my last audition. All of a sudden, I got a call from my agent when I was in an Uber to leave New York and they wanted me to play this role. It was a dream come true, and every day has been magical.”

The 2017 Carmel High School graduate portrays Babkak in the national tour of “Aladdin,” with shows set for Nov. 16-20 at Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler University campus in Indianapolis. The tour is part of the Broadway Indianapolis series.

“To work with Casey Nicholaw as my first professional director, you can’t ask for anything better,” said Letts, who graduated from Ball State University in 2021. “Throughout my life, I got comments that I’m not a dancer. I’m not someone who people hire to dance.”

Letts said he loves to dance but understands it’s something he’s not technically proficient in.

“It’s something that brings me joy,” Letts said. “Then to have Tony Award-winning choreographer (Nicolaw) say, ‘You know what? You can dance in my show.’ It was a moment that validated the work I was doing and made me see it wasn’t for nothing. It’s not something I did blindly.”

Babkak is one of Aladdin’s three friends.

“They are street rats, just trying to find some food,” Letts said.

Letts said “Aladdin” was performed for the first time in 2015 with most of the Broadway cast.

“I fell in love with it,” he said. “I remember watching the character I’m playing and thought he was so funny. You could tell the actor delivering the lines was funny, but the lines themselves were really funny. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, wow, I’ve never seen a show with so much glitz and glamor,’ and just loving every moment of it. I got to do a workshop with (actor) Bobby Pestka the next day and he taught me and my classmates some choreography from ‘Arabian Nights.’ I was hooked on the show since then and was especially excited when my show choir performed ‘High Adventure’ in the competitive set the next year.”

While auditioning for college, Letts said he channeled his love for the show and put together a dance routine to “Friend Like Me.”

“It was goofy but got me an in-person audition for University of Michigan,” he said. “So, it couldn’t have been the worst. Finally, at Ball State University, my good friend Ani Arzumanian and I sang ‘A Million Miles Away’ as our freshman showcase duet, so that song holds a special place in my heart. Especially being a recent graduate, it feels like her as well as many of my friends are now a million miles away and hopefully finding their homes.”

Letts said he had a performance in Schenectady, N.Y., with a lot of high school students in the audience.

“I had this feeling of, wow, when I saw this show as a kid I was inspired by the characters and I wanted to be one of them,’” Letts said. “Now I am and thought maybe he could be a theater-loving kid and might get that same inspiration. I thought that was the moment that clicked, that I am to be someone able to inspire future generations.”

Letts played the title role of “Phantom of the Opera” his senior year at CHS.

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