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When Disney’s “Aladdin” opens at the Peace Center Feb. 12, audiences might love to hate Jafar, but behind that stage makeup is a dad, a grandfather and a very nice guy.

Part of the Peace Center’s Broadway series, the show is one that families can enjoy together. 

“I’ve had a long on-again, off-again relationship with Disney,” Jonathan Weir said. 

Weir has appeared as Scar and Pumbaa in “The Lion King” on Broadway and on tour and primarily bases his work in Chicago. He has been appearing as Jafar in “Aladdin” since 2017. 

“It’s been a real gift, not only the work and what it’s provided for my family and career, but also the cast,” which has become like family, Weir said. 

And playing the antagonist is just plain fun. 

Weir is married and is the father of three adult children. He became a grandfather for the first time just three months ago. He was able to be at home for the delivery of his granddaughter and also spend Christmas with his family. 

“Whenever I can, I try to stop home,” he said. “She’s a little bundle. My daughter-in-law and son are beautiful parents. It’s really profound to see your child be a parent. As a parent, you’re reminded of your trajectory. It’s highly gratifying.”

On the road, Weir gets to bring other families together for a show they won’t forget. He said he often meets young audience members at the stage door. Many of them are experiencing live theater for the first time. 

“While movies are brilliant and I love them, there’s nothing like the live theater experience,” he said. “It’s a unique thing. Disney does it right.”

Fans of the 1992 animated movie will see some differences in the live show, but Weir said they can expect beautiful staging and music.

“One of the biggest thrills for me is to hear an audience of 2,000-plus and hear the laughter,” he said. “The audience can expect all the Disney magic and spectacle of their movies in a live theater experience. It’s full of heart and it’s full of an adult story as well. It deals with who we really are. Are we going to be authentic?”

Disney’s “Aladdin” is presented at the Peace Center Feb. 12 – 23. Tickets are available online at https://www.peacecenter.org.

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