The world of theatre is roaring back to life with Kayi Ushe starring as the new Simba in the multi award winning smash hit musical, The Lion King. This amazing musical will return to The Lyceum Theatre from 29 July 2021.
Using breath taking masks and puppetry to create theatrical magic, at its heart is the powerful and moving story of Simba – the epic adventure of his journey from wide-eyed cub to his destined role as King of the Pridelands. Kayi Ushe has played some great musical theatre roles including Lola in Kinky Boots. We caught up with Kayi to talk about all things theatre.
The Lion King is a massive show. Tell us about the new cast?
It truly is a huge spectacle with a huge heart. Coming out of this global moment, I can honestly say the whole cast feels like a new cast. Everyone is so generous with their talents and all have so much talent to give. We all can’t wait to get back onstage doing what we love in front of people who love it too.
How do you keep The Lion King fresh?
Having been in long running shows before, I can say with certainty – no two shows are the same. It’s the beauty of live theatre. We’ll keep the show fresh because every day there will be something new to explore. And with a show like The Lion King that is a feast of theatre, culture, storytelling and community. It really won’t be hard to keep things fresh.
Tell us about the rehearsal process for such a massive show like The Lion King?
The rehearsal process for The Lion King is so nurturing. We are blessed to work with some of the most generous creatives and yes, they work us hard for sure. It has been such an enriching and empowering process so far and I feel so grateful, especially after what we have all just been through globally, to come out of that and into a creative process with the amazing team and company we have.
What is your view on meeting fans at the stage door after shows in the new post COVID era?
I love meeting fans at the stage door. We all connect through the onstage/ auditorium relationship so it’s lovely to get to meet people in that way too. In this post lockdown era though, there are some people for whom that is too much and this can change from day to day. We’ve all been affected by the global situation in ways that are unique to our personal lived experience and so I’d say it’s just about mutual respect.
What is your favourite song in The Lion King and why?
That’s tough. All the music in the show is so rich and emotive. It gets under your skin. If I had to choose one song right now I’d say Shadowland. I had the pleasure of hearing Janique Charles singing it the other day in rehearsals and it really hit me. To hear her sing “I will return, I will return” after the theatre’s gut wrenching hiatus. Just. Wow.
What are your top three musicals?
If I had to pick solely from shows I’ve not worked on it’d be Matilda, In the Heights and Beetlejuice. But, and this may seem biased, Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon and The Lion King are genuinely my favourite shows.
Do you have any pre or post show rituals that you do?
Depends on the day and depends on the character. Kinky Boots was wonderful because I had a 1.5 hour make up call which lent itself to the character – it was like putting on war paint and armour. It’ll be fun figuring out what Simba’s pre show rituals will be.
Lola and Simba are very different. What’s the best thing about both characters?
They’re very different to look at for sure but I think if you look closely you’ll find the similarities. The incredible thing about them both is that a lot of people can see themselves reflected in their respective stories. They both go on such incredible journeys and overcome mountainous odds. The best thing about them both is that they are powerful and empowering.
What would you say to someone who wants to enter musical theatre?
Work hard, have fun and tell the story…
To book for The Lion King, visit: thelionking.co.uk
Leading image of Kayi Ushe courtesy of James Everett.
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