Jonathan Andrew Hume is currently playing Simba in The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. He returns to London having played the role in the Singaporean production. Hume also played Judas in the 2004 Jesus Christ Superstar tour as well as making television appearances in Hope & Glory and Eastenders. Here he talks about 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 long running success?
The Lion King is a spectacular show. There are so many layers to it and at the heart of it is a timeless story that resonates with everyone.
How did you react to being asked to play such an iconic role as Simba?
Ever since I first saw The Lion King, I fell in love with it. I used to watch the video with my brother so many times that we could recite the words along with the characters! Simba’s journey is really inspirational. When I was offered the role, it felt as if I’d been told to play a childhood hero!
You’ve done some TV work – 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. 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.
How old were you when Disney’s Lion King film came out? Did the story have a profound effect on you?
I was 11 years old when the film was released. If I think about what the story means to me, I’m reminded of Simba’s progression and growth that leads him to succeed. By learning from our mistakes, we can develop and succeed in our lives.
Have you ever had any wardrobe malfunctions on stage?
As part of my costume, I wear a beautiful hand-beaded corset. Unfortunately, some of the beads occasionally fall off with all the dancing. Even after the costumes are created, there’s still a lot of hard work that goes into maintaining them.
You were Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar – how does it feel going from villain to hero?
It’s always fun playing the bad guy! There’s something appealing about acting in a way completely unlike yourself. 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!
Why should theatre-goers see The Lion King? And after that why should they see it again?
The Lion King is a musical for kids and adults, theatre-lovers and first-timers. The show is so rich with detail that it’s impossible to take it all in the first time. The beautiful puppetry and costumes, the vivid make-up and lighting, the enormous staging, the evocative music and choreography all combine to create this wonderful musical. Who wouldn’t want to see it again?!