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Brief Encounter with ... The Lion King's Jonathan Andrew Hume

By • West End
Jonathan Andrew Hume is currently playing Simba in The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. He returns to London having played the role in a Singaporean production.

Hume has also played Judas in performances of the 2004 Jesus Christ Superstar tour as well as making television appearances in Hope & Glory, Eastenders and Crimewatch.

He has also performed at the Royal Variety Performance and the Olivier Awards. Here he shares his experience of playing the iconic role, and the effect The Lion King story has had on him...


Why do you think The Lion King has been such a success?
The Lion King is a spectacular show. I remember watching the show for the first time a little after it opened here in London and I was amazed at the complexity of it all. There are so many layers that create the performance. The colours and detail in the costumes, lighting and the set, the puppetry, the music score, the singing, the dancing, it's impossible to see it all in one visit. But at the heart of it is a timeless story that resonates with everyone who watches it.

How did it feel to be offered the role of Simba?
Ever since I first saw The Lion King at the cinema, I fell in love with it. I remember watching the video with my brother so many times that we could recite the words along with the characters on the screen. Simba's journey is really inspirational. So when I was offered the role, it felt as if I'd been told I could play a childhood hero!

You've done some TV work too - do you prefer the stage?
Yes, most definitely. On the stage, there's no opportunity to stop and start over again like with television or film. It's live, and with an audience of thousands sitting in front of you. It involves a lot of trust and openness with your fellow performers to create live theatre. I love the challenge of reproducing the story every day, but still keeping it fresh for those coming to see it for the first time or the ninth time.

How old were you when The Lion King film came out?
I was eleven years old when the film was released. I'm a huge Disney movie fan and I knew from the moment I heard that iconic voice singing "Nan ts'ngonya!" at the beginning that it was going to be something that I had never seen before. If I think about what the story means to me, I'm reminded of Simba's progression and growth, both inside and out that lead him to succeed and become who he is supposed to be.

We all have our struggles through life, but it's through those struggles that we realise what lessons we are supposed to learn. By learning from our mistakes, we can advance, develop and succeed in our lives.

You were Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar - how does it feel going from villain to hero?
It's always fun playing the bad guy! If you'd ask me what other character I'd like to play in the show, it would most definitely be Scar. There's something appealing about acting in a way completely unlike yourself.

When discovering roles you try to understand why the character is a certain way. It's strange, but you begin to sympathise with them, even though their actions may not be what you would agree with in reality. But playing the good guy is just as fun. Being able to save the day and get the girl, eight times a week, is a good feeling!

Finally, why should theatregoers see The Lion King? And then see it again?
The Lion King is a musical for everyone: kids and adults, theatre-lovers and first-timers. What's great about it is that its depth spans far deeper than just the story. The piece is so rich with detail that it's impossible to take it all in the first time.

From the beautiful puppetry and costumes, the vivid make up and lighting, the enormous staging, to the evocative music and choreography - all of it melded together to create this wonderful musical. Who wouldn't want to see it all over again?


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