‘It’s the best part’ Sunderland’s Adam Strong on playing the iconic Disney villain Jafar

Adam Strong, will return to his hometown to perform in Disney’s Aladdin the Musical in February 2024.

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Disney’s Aladdin the Musical, is set to arrive at the Sunderland Empire next February as part of its first ever UK and Ireland tour.

The musical production of the well-loved Disney classic, has already had successful runs on both Broadway and the West End, and will soon travel on its magic carpet to theatres across the UK and Ireland, including the Sunderland Empire.

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Sunderland-born actor Adam Strong is part of the incredible touring cast, playing the role of the iconic villain Jafar.

Adam is no stranger to the musical theatre world though, as he has had previous roles in the likes of We Will Rock You, Rock of Ages, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and much more.

We at the Shields Gazette spoke to Adam, to discuss what it means to him to return to his hometown, to take on the part of Jafar and his personal career highlights.

“I did my first musical at the Sunderland Empire when I was eight years old,” Adam said, explaining that he had a part in the musical South Pacific.

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From then on, a love for musical theatre was born and Adam went on to study at London School of Musical Theatre.

The first musical theatre production he was cast in as an adult was Jesus Christ Superstar where he performed alongside the likes of Mel C and Tim Minchin, as well as fellow Sunderland musical theatre star, Ben Forster.

He then went on to establish himself in the musical theatre industry, with many impressive roles in huge productions to his name.

Speaking of a career highlight, Adam explained how getting to perform with Queen guitarist Brian May as part of We Will Rock You is one of his proudest moments.

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He explained: “I loved being in We Will Rock You. Queen has always been my favourite band, since being a child. We got to perform with Brian May which will always remain one of the best nights of my career.”

“Now I get to be a Disney villain which is absolutely amazing!” Adam said.

Adam explained that he was given a Jafar soft toy as a youngster, when the animated movie was first released, which he still owns to this day.

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“I adore the Disney villains,” Adam said. “They were always the characters I gravitated towards as a child, and still do as an adult.

“It’s the best part in my opinion!”

Adam will be working alongside Angelo Paragoso, who will be playing the role of Jafar’s parrot, Iago, and Adam was full of praise for his co-star as he said: “We have the best time, creating chaos across the stage.”

With 162 costumes in the show, Adam also praised the costume designers, and said there are some magical costumes for audiences to look out for, especially from Jafar. “They’re really heavy!” Adam laughed.

Adam is incredibly excited to return to his hometown for Disney’s Aladdin, and has already received so much support from the area.

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He explained: “It’s amazing to have so much support from the North East and it makes such a difference to be on home turf.

“The buzz around the show is so exciting. To have the villain being played by one of their own is going to be fantastic for the North East.

“It is a full circle moment, being a young child performing at the Sunderland Empire and then to come back and perform - especially in this role.

“I am the first middle-eastern Jafar that they have ever had in the UK, that for me is amazing as well, it means a lot to me.”

Adam strong as Jafar, alongisde Angelo Paragoso as Iago.Adam strong as Jafar, alongisde Angelo Paragoso as Iago.
Adam strong as Jafar, alongisde Angelo Paragoso as Iago.
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Adam wanted to send a message to aspiring actors in the North East, which is to “keep going, focus on every element of your learning experience, and soak up as much live theatre as you can.

“We are so lucky in the North East to have the Sunderland Empire.”

For more information or to book Disney’s Aladdin the Musical at the Sunderland Empire, please visit the ATG website.