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A Villain's Second Act

Broadway’s ”Aladdin” scores big with Jonathan Freeman, the original voice of Jafar from the 1992 animated film

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One of Aladdin‘s best tricks happened in casting: The Broadway team lured Jonathan Freeman, who voiced the sinister Jafar in the 1992 animated film, to reprise his role on stage. The 64-year-old theater vet admits he was initially hesitant to take up the turban again — “I wasn’t sure I had anything new to bring to the table” — but friends and family wore him down. And the show’s young cast was a bit starstruck. “When they first heard my voice at the table read, they gasped,” says Freeman, who along with Don Darryl Rivera as his squawking sidekick, Iago, delights in spooking a new generation of wee Disney fans. “When Don Darryl and I hear even the slightest little whimper in the audience,” he says, “it makes us feel we’ve done our job properly.”