Westerville South High School alumnus Jonathan Weir will appear in the Columbus engagement of Disney's "Aladdin," running through Nov. 4 at the Ohio Theatre, 39 E. State St.
Weir, 59, plays the role of the villain, Jafar, in the show that is taking audiences into a world of adventure, comedy and romance.
"It's a huge production," Weir said. "It's not scaled-down from the Broadway show. There's a level of humor to the show. At all these theaters, people are coming together and give over to the story. With all the laughter and applause, it's gratifying as a performer."
Weir said audiences have been transformed by the show about a young man who lost his mother, being OK with who you are, along with some adult themes.
He said the show features great music and all the magic one would expect from Disney.
The 1977 Westerville South graduate said it's fun playing a villain.
"It's good to be the bad guy," he said. "I enjoy playing a variety of roles."
Weir said he's proud to call himself a Chicago actor, having resided there for 32 years.
The veteran theater actor has also played evil as Scar in Disney's "The Lion King" on Broadway.
His national tours include "Jersey Boys," "The Lion King" and "Scrooge the Musical," while some of his Chicago credits include "King Charles III and Twelfth Night" (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); "The Merry Widow" (Lyric Opera Chicago); "2666," "Candide," "The Visit" and "A Christmas Carol" (Goodman Theatre); "Ragtime" and "Camelot" (Drury Lane Oakbrook Theatre).
Weir said he's most proud of the role he currently plays but "2666," based on a novel, was a five-and-a-half-hour play.
"That was unique and special," he said.
There are a few roles he still would like to take on, including some from Shakespearean works.
"As an actor, there's always something to learn," he said. "I continue to look on the horizon to what's coming on."
Westerville North theater director Kim (Kish) Mollohan said she and Weir were friends in high school.
"We were both involved in theater and loved performing," she said. "One of my favorite memories was doing the musical "Funny Girl" together my senior year. I played the role of Fanny Brice and Jon played my husband, Nicky Arnstein. We were quite a dynamic duo."
Mollohan said they both attended college at Bowling Green State University and did theater together there as well.
"In "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," Jon played Charlie Brown and I was Lucy along with another friend of ours from Westerville South who played Snoopy," she said. "Jon and I both pursued theater after college, me in New York City and Jon in Chicago."
Mollohan said she's thrilled Weir is touring across the country in "Aladdin."
She and more than 50 Westerville North theater students and parents will be attending the Nov. 1 performance, and Weir has offered to do a talk back with the group after the show, she said.
"I'm sure that he plays a very convincing and evil Jafar, but in real life, he's quite the opposite," Mollohan said. "Jon is not only a marvelous and talented actor, but he's one of the kindest and compassionate friends I've ever known."
Weir said he only lived three years in Westerville, but those were formative years as a high school sophomore, junior and senior.
Weir said his mentors at South were the upperclassmen who were involved in theater.
He said he remembers spending a career day with Charles Dodrill, a founding father of Otterbein University Theater, but he decided to attend Ohio University, then BGSU.
Weir also attended Temple University for his first two years of graduate school, then he received his master in fine arts at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
He has served as an adjunct professor of theater at Loyola University Chicago.
For young actors, Weir said, there's no one way to do a career and no one way to do life.
"Start training to be an actor," Weir said. "It's to reflect the human condition back to the audience. You can't win if you're not in the game. If you have an idea about what you want, eventually if you outlast everyone else, you can have a career and make the life you want."
Weir said there are a lot of ways to be involved in theater besides being on stage.
The Columbus show schedule is 2 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25; 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26 and Nov. 2; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, Oct. 27, and Nov. 3; 1 and 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 28; 7:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Oct. 29, Oct. 30 and Nov. 1; and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4.
Tickets start at $34, and VIP ticket packages, which include a prime seat location, a souvenir program and an exclusive merchandise item, are also available.
Tickets can be purchased at the CAPA Ticket Center, 39 E. State St., all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.ticketmaster.com.
To purchase by phone, call 614-469-0939 or 800-745-3000.