audiences can be shy. How do you respond as an actor when people are quiet?
We know we’re getting a reaction, even if people don’t stand,
whoop or cry. Our job to is to give the best performance every night. And we
know the audience is responding, especially when they come up to us after the
show and tell us how much they loved the performance.
Live performance is gruelling.
How do you stay fresh for every performance?
It has to be a brand new show every day. Never stop learning
until you’re done. We give eight shows a week and we’re not here to do it on
autopilot. Once your heart is not there, it’s time to go. People are coming to
see the show for the first, second or third time. And it’s our job to tell this
amazing story by Julie Taymor the best we can, night after night.
John Stefaniuk who works on The Lion King around the globe brought in an
Indonesian Balinese expert because Julie had spent several years in Indonesia
and was very influenced by this traditional dance. I didn’t realize how hard it
was to do. It takes a lot of precision and concentration. In The Lion King show,
we can’t let our performance slide because we have to make the Balinese steps
authentic for an Asian audience who understands what they should be like. This
element of discipline has been very good for my dancing.
So people are surprised when they find I don’t go to the gym. The show is
actually a workout itself. At 6:30pm every night, I have a physical warm-up and
then a voice-up. I watch what I eat. And the show is so physical that I burn
everything off. And I don’t eat anything “stodgy” (anything heavy and
fattening) before a performance.
What would you say to someone
thinking about a career in the Arts?
I’d encourage anybody to enter into an artistic profession. You
can be successful in the Arts. I’m not saying don’t go into other fields. But
the same effort and concentration that goes into law or medicine is needed in
the acting or singing.
The Arts is not an easy career. In fact it requires the same or even more
discipline. Ten to eleven years ago I was a member of the ensemble (chorus) in
London and now I’m Simba in Singapore. This show is now in cities all over the
globe in Spain, London, Germany, Broadway, Japan and an American Tour. Nowdays,
barriers are falling and color-blind roles are giving actors more opportunities
to demonstrate what their talent is inside.
Performance really makes me feel good. I have so much to give from my heart.
It’s great to have that outlet for expression. This is what I was trained to
do. To use my voice, my emotions, and to express what’s inside me. I get such
great joy from doing it. I love to see that same joy from people in the
audience who are laughing and crying. It’s really an adrenalin rush.
What surprised you most about
This is the most international cast of all the LK productions.
We have different accents from all the world: New Zealand, the Philippines and
South Africa. The show opens with this absolutely guttural voice. Jean-Luc
Guizonne who plays my father Mufasa has a strong, heavy French accent. And then
I come in and with this British voice.
Rehearsals before the production starts are normally 6 weeks long. And it was
decided to add on an extra two weeks. And we had to learn to work together, to
understand each other, emphasize certain words and speak more clearly, and
learn to meld our accents together so that the audience would understand us.
What’s interesting is we’ve brought all of this to a Singaporean audience.
You’ve played some evil
characters before. What's the secret to being bad night after night?
It’s actually quite fun. An evil character—unless it’s somebody
who you really are—gives you more opportunity to go outside the boundaries of
your natural personality and add more artistic flair than you would playing a
‘good guy’ role.
Where do you go from here?
I don’t know really! I’m going to take a bit of a break. I would
love to come back and do The Lion King if it returned or opened in another city
Any last comments for your
I’ve had the most amazing time in Asia. I love it. I’ve said
this since the second day I got here. Everybody has been really welcoming. I
would come back again.