Tickets to The Lion King were clawed up so quickly that the show has been extended yet again. With a soundtrack as powerful as the set design, Gerard Ward checked in with UK actor Jonathan Andrew Hume (Simba) and South African actress Puleng March (Nala) to hear about their personal love for the music
First published on 27 Jul 2011. Updated on 18 Oct 2011.
Have you ever found the idea of performing in front of such a big audience daunting?
Jonathan Andrew Hume (Simba): I think it all boils down to confidence, I suppose. [Puleng] said she was shy before, and I was pretty much the same. It’s only from doing it for such a [long time] that you actually become comfortable with exposing yourself every single night because you’re showing a thousand-odd people ‘you’, and you’re the only on stage at some point and it’s quite daunting to be able to put that on stage and do that. At the same time I suppose we kind of have to take it into waves. You have to be able to expose yourself and be free to do that, but at the same time take that experience make that build you to be a stronger person as well, and to do that day in and day out. However the challenge is not to get…
Puleng March (Nala): …used to it.
Andrew: Yeah, not to get used to it. Because I think that’s where problems arise. I always say that in this business you’re always learning. The second you stop learning is when you need to get out, and stop. And I know that I learn something every single day from my other colleagues, and just through life as well. It’s really gratifying.
Puleng: To add to what he said, you never really get used to doing this. I was telling one of my colleagues that I prefer going ‘Oh my goodness! I’m shaking! I just want to run away’, and they say, ‘yes, that’s good, that’s normal.’ When you start not feeling that, that’s when you know there’s a problem. You know, you’re getting used to stage and you should never get used to stage. [You need to] respect the audience and respect what you’re doing. But it’s an everyday thing.
Have you ever had an emotional connection with any of the songs you both sing?
Puleng: There’s a song I do [‘Shadowland’], I normally feel [nervous] because it is my story. Because I had to leave home. Because back home life was not that easy. Walls were falling apart, roofs were falling in, our house was a disaster. And I decided I had to go back and help my mother. So life can be better. So every time I sing that song on stage, I tell the story of my life. So it’s never easy to go and to tell the scariest part of your life and giving it all out. And I think I understand [Shadowland] so much more now.
Has it ever been too hard to sing?
Puleng: Sometimes you’ll hear cracks in my voice and our crew will be thinking, ‘She’s going to cry now, she’s going to cry’ [Laughs]. It’s much deeper for me so there’s never an easy moment. There’s a song Andrew sings as well [‘Endless Night’], and every time he sings it I’ll be on the side with tears splitting down because it’s part of my story as well. I can relate to that. It’s just an amazing journey for me, and all of us.
Andrew: I think it’s part of that story which allows us to be able to go out there and do it every single night. For us to live through the characters, telling that emotive, powerful story is tiring, but so rewarding.
The Lion King is showing at Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands until 30 October.
Review: The Lion King Singapore production