Lion King easy fit for Afoa
Some people might find it hard to relate to a lion but it's no problem for Nick Afoa.
The South Aucklander has just been cast as Simba in the musical production of Disney's The Lion King.
He'll wear the lion costume eight times a week for the next 14 months, performing in front of thousands at Sydney's Capitol Theatre.
But he says walking in the feline's paws won't be too much of a stretch.
"We have a lot in common in some ways. We're both quite playful - my wife tells me to grow up sometimes."
The Lion King is the highest-grossing Broadway show in history and has been viewed by more than 65 million people. Its Sydney season begins on December 13 and Mr Afoa and his wife, Kimberley, are relocating to Australia for its duration.
The sheer scope of the production - which features costumed actors alongside giant puppets - means it's not possible to bring it to New Zealand.
"I should try, though - I could do a special show here at the zoo in the lion enclosure," Mr Afoa says.
The 27-year-old grew up in Mangere and Papatoetoe and attended Calvin Christian School, St Peter's College and King's College.
He has always loved singing but hasn't acted in a play since high school.
"That will be a challenge - not just singing but conveying that emotion while I'm on stage," he says.
"Sometimes you have to connect to your own past to bring out the message."
Mr Afoa was a New Zealand rugby junior but had to pack it in after a knee injury.
He studied social sciences at university before helping to deliver a programme to South Auckland teens who had been affected by drugs and alcohol.
"I enjoyed it because I could use music as a therapeutic tool and help them to realise their own skills."
He's sung the National Anthem at numerous sports games but playing Simba is his biggest challenge yet, he says. Four hundred people auditioned for the role and he regards himself as "truly blessed" to have got it. "I have to really kick myself - ‘is this really happening?"'
- © Fairfax NZ News
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