HAKUNA MATATA | ‘Lion King’ leads say Simba and Nala inspire their performances

March 31, 2018 - 3:14 PM
Calvyn Grandling and Noxolo Dlamini play Simba and Nala respectively in Disney's 'The Lion King' (Photo by Edwin P. Sallan/InterAksyon)

Easily the most anticipated musical theater event of the summer is “Disney’s The Lion King.”

Dubbed as “The World’s #1 Musical,” the acclaimed multi-awarded production is currently in the Manila leg of its ongoing international tour which also include stops in Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and South Africa.

Based on the 1994 Disney animated classic, it is not only a visual spectacle that features human actors made up in the likeness of the animated animal characters in the original film but also includes the well-loved songs created by Elton John and Tim Rice including “Circle of Life,” “Hakuna Matata,” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight?”

In a recent interview with InterAksyon, two of the musical’s lead actors, Calvyn Grandling who plays Simba and Noxolo Dlamini who portrays Nala recall the first time they saw the movie.

“I remember watching the film together with my whole family. My mom with her family and my uncle with his family. And I cried when Mufasa died. It was a beautiful experience because while we’ve had dinner over the years but it was the only time my whole family was sitting together watching a movie,” Calvyn recalled.

Curtain call for the cast of ‘The Lion King’ during their first Manila performance last March 18. (Photo from the musical’s Instagram page)

Noxolo, on the other hand, said she was too young (“I was still in nursery school”) to understand “The Lion King” during its original theatrical run. While she also cried when the original lion king, Mufasa died, she said it wasn’t until she saw it again when she was older when she started to have a better appreciation of the story.

So it was a big thrill for Calvyn and Noxolo when they were cast for their respective parts.

“When I opened the email, I ran to my mom and said ‘I got it!’ It was amazing, like a dream come true for me,” exclaimed Calvyn, who has been playing Simba in several “Lion King” productions since 2007.

“I wanted the role of Nala so much I cried like a baby when I learned I got it,” added Noxolo, who made her “Lion King” debut in 2015.

But while both actors hail from South Africa and have been doing theater for quite a while, they never actually met until the cast for the international tour was announced. Weeks of rehearsals however, allowed Calvyn and Noxolo to develop a palpable chemistry that further enhanced their performances.

Of course, it also helps that they were able to relate to their characters on a personal level.

“The father and son relationship between Mufasa and Simba is the core of “The Lion King.” Every time I’m in character, I just recall all the happy moments I’ve had with my own father,” noted Calvyn who also admired how Simba was able to regain his birthright after losing it when his uncle Scar killed his father.

Noxolo looks at Nala as a strong individual.

“She’s a warrior who has a very strong will. Her character sends a message to the young girls that sometimes you need to step outside of your comfort zone to get things done. In my life, I have experienced different struggles that taught me how to be strong like Nala,” the actress pointed out.

“The Lion King” runs until May 8 at The Theatre at Solaire Resort and Casino. For ticket information, visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.