Day after day, night after night, the diverse cast of London’s West End production of Disney’s The Lion King work tirelessly rehearsing and performing, making sure that every note is pitch-perfect and every leap is as energetic as that of a lion in the wild.
The incredible cast of talent from all over the world that brings this classic, award-winning production by visionary director Julie Taymor to life each day at London’s Lyceum Theatre use their voices, instruments, puppetry, masks, movement - and different backgrounds and cultures - to transform themselves into the animals of the African Serengeti Plains.
They’re more than just actors, singers and dancers: with each performance, they become an extension of the animals they represent, pushing their physicality and endurance to the limit.
The video above introduces the cast of the The Lion King in rehearsal mode, where they discuss their rich multicultural backgrounds and the skills it takes to bring this enduring show to life.
Cast members come from a variety of destinations across the world, including Cuba, Brazil, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago and Hong Kong, as well as a host of homegrown London talent, which informs their experiences and performances. After all, the show itself takes inspiration from cultures across the globe.
“All of those different places that people have grown up in and they’ve learnt, it’s all coming together, and I think it will probably change me as well... all of those things are just being weaved in to make this tapestry of a family,” says Bristol native Dominique Planter.
As anyone who’s seen the The Lion King on stage can tell you, it’s not your typical West End show.
Vibrant, electrifying and moving, the stage adaptation of Disney’s beloved film tells a complex story of love, loss, friendship, bravery and destiny.
It’s a story with complex, sophisticated themes, and also contains such a poignant story that it makes the cast feel as though they’re more than actors in a musical: they’re storytellers bringing this important vision to life.
The cast describes the musical as “life-changing” and “inspiring,” with north Londoner Sadia McEwen explaining that “the intricacy of each detail makes The Lion King, The ‘Lion King.’”
Countless hours of rehearsals serve to help the actors perfect their roles and solidify their relationships with one another as teammates, colleagues and family, uniting and inspiring packed houses night after night (watch the video above for some serious #squadgoals).
And don’t forget, cast members aren’t just working with their own bodies in this production: they have props, masks and puppets to control while they’re dancing and singing.
“Every time your body moves, the animal is moving,” explains Dominique Planter, of what it takes to transform yourself for the role.
“You need that synergy between the two.”
So, what does it really take to perform in a landmark London musical day after day and to achieve your lifelong ambition of being in a hit West End stage production?
Talent, sure - but there’s also a lot of hard work involved.
Cast member Khaya Maseko says that it takes: “Perseverance, concentration and you gotta bring energy... it’s one of the most energetic shows, if not in the West End, in the world.”
More than actors, singers and dancers, The Lion King cast-members are tasked with bringing this musical to life, night after night.
“We have one story to tell. We need each other to tell this one story,” says ensemble member Sandile Gontsana, a native of South Africa.
“We are actually living that circle of life,” he adds.
Discover more about The Lion King right now.