Jonathan Freeman Will Bring Jafar from Screen to Stage in Disney's Aladdin at 5th Avenue

By Adam Hetrick
06 May 2011

Tony Award nominee Jonathan Freeman, who voiced the nefarious villain Jafar in the 1992 animated Disney feature "Aladdin," will bring the role to life on stage this July in Seattle.



As previously reported, Tony Award nominee Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, The Drowsy Chaperone) will direct and choreograph the world-premiere, two-act stage musical adaptation of the Academy Award-winning Disney film at the 5th Avenue Theatre this summer. Aladdin will run July 7-31. An official opening is set for July 21.

Freeman first voiced Jafar in the 1992 film, and continued with the role for the sequel and a series of Disney specials and television shows based on the property. He earned a Tony nomination for She Loves Me, and has also appeared on Broadway in The Producers, 42nd Street, On the Town and How to Succeed in Business… He has worked extensively with Disney Theatricals in the Broadway productions of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins.

Additional casting will be announced shortly.

The stage adaptation will incorporate the Oscar-winning songs from the 1992 film, penned by composer Alan Menken and lyricists Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, with a new book by Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), who will also pen new lyrics along with Menken.

The pilot production will be used to launch the new two-act version as a licensable property for professional and amateur organizations through Music Theatre International, which handles rights for Disney Theatrical titles. Disney representatives told Playbill.com that the production is not being groomed for a Broadway future.

The new stage production of Aladdin will feature cut songs and moments from early drafts of the property. "Proud of Your Boy," a popular song with lyrics by Ashman, was originally cut from previous drafts and could make its debut in Seattle.

According to the 5th Avenue, "[Aladdin] marks a return to the authors’ original vision: a loving homage to the Hope-Crosby road pictures with a score invoking the jazz sound of stars like Cab Calloway and Fats Waller."

The 5th Avenue design team for Aladdin will include scenic designer Anna Louizos (High Fidelity, In The Heights), Tony Award-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes (The Drowsy Chaperone), Tony-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz (Beauty and the Beast, Aida), dance arranger Glen Kelly (The Producers, Drowsy Chaperone) and musical supervisor Michael Kosarin (Beauty and the Beast, Sister Act).

For tickets visit 5thAvenue.