Entertainment

Filipino actors to play young Simba, young Nala in ‘The Lion King’ in Manila

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Six Filipino children will be included in the cast of Disney’s “The Lion King” for the Manila staging in March 2018, which opens the show’s first international tour, associate director Anthony Lyn has confirmed to the Inquirer.

“Presently it would be in the leading roles of young Simba and young Nala. But casting is not yet complete so that number may increase,” he says. The actors’ names are also being withheld for now.

Two Fridays ago at The Opera Haus in Makati City, Lyn was able to meet some of the auditionees. “The kids we saw were incredibly talented, self-assured and spirited, and we are highly confident that we have first-class children to cast here,” he said.

He was with associate choreographer Marey Griffith and musical supervisor Clement Ishmael. Ishmael also described the children as “very talented.”

Lyn is not new to auditioning Filipino actors. He was resident director for “Miss Saigon” and he would come to Manila on casting trips. But that was 18 years ago, so he said it was refreshing for him to be back in Manila and see new, younger talents.

Besides “Miss Saigon,” Lyn’s theater credits in London include “Anything Goes,” “Les Misérables,” “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Damn Yankees.” On Broadway, he directed two US tours of “Mary Poppins,” plus the Mexico and the UK tours. He was also associate director for the “Les Misérables” 25th anniversary productions in Toronto and the US tour.

As for the back-up band and orchestra, Ishmael said they are casting musicians from South Africa and employing players that have previously done the show in other countries.

“We like to use the music and the culture of the country in which we mount [the show]. There are parts of the show where we can use local music. For example, the ‘Charleston’ becomes ‘La Vie Parisienne’ in Paris and ‘La Bamba’ in Mexico City. Each production develops its own identity in accordance with the individual performers in it.”

The three also dropped by at The Theatre at Solaire and were impressed by it.

“Breathtaking, such amazing facilities both on stage and backstage—truly a venue that rivals any worldwide, and is frankly far superior to most,” Lyn said.

“The Lion King” won six Tony Awards, including Best Direction of a Musical for Julie Taymor, the first woman to win in the category. Taymor, also the costume designer and mask codesigner, continues to supervise new productions of the show around the world.

The show’s worldwide gross is said to exceed that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history.

But, aside from the actual statistical facts, “I believe it to be the most successful musical of all time thanks to its universal, multicultural, multigenerational appeal,” said Lyn.

“Wherever ‘The Lion King’ opens in the world, it is truly a major event. I’m particularly excited that, with its rich, rich culture and talent, we get to open the show in Manila and that we get to share this extraordinary piece of theater here for the very first time. I can’t wait!” “The Lion King” International Tour premiere in Manila is presented by the Michael Cassel Group in association with Disney Theatrical Productions. Tickets on sale starting October this year. Visit LionKingInternational.com or follow @concertusmanila. – CONTRIBUTED/Inquirer.net

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