International flavour as Lion King rehearsals begin
REHEARSALS for musical The Lion King have begun in earnest as the cast assembled in Bristol for the first time.
Some have come from as far afield as Jamaica, South Africa and Brazil, and others from just down the road, but yesterday was the first time they had all come face to face.
Led by Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Group, each member of the production, from actors to wardrobe assistants, introduced themselves to their new family, before performing a rendition of the musical's anthem- like song Circle of Life.
Mr Schumacher, who spent several months in Bristol when he co-produced Mary Poppins in 2004, said: "Coming back to Bristol having spent the summer of 2004 here is fantastic. I know how inviting and open this place is.
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"I have so many friends in this production and it is also great to see so much new blood too. There is a real mixture of cast members who are totally new and those who have performed with us before."
Bristol is the first stop on the first ever UK tour of the musical, which is also the largest stage musical ever to tour Britain.
Its 46-strong acting company includes local talent in the form of Yate schoolgirl Milan Cacacie and Maia Tamraker, from Bedminster, who will play the role of Young Nala, and Stephen Carlile, from Bath, who will play Scar.
Anna Girvan, from Bristol, is the show's assistant director.
Associate director John Stefaniuk said he could barely contain his excitement at starting rehearsals at studios at Paintworks, in Bath Road.
He said: "I was just on a cruise before I came here and I was counting down the days. The Bahamas was lovely and sunny but it is nothing compared to Bristol. I couldn't wait to get here and get started."
"This is a beautiful show that has changed and grown over the years and we are blessed to have a wonderful team working with us."
The Lion King is adapted from Disney's classic film and follows the adventures of a cub who is driven to exile after the death of his father.
For its run at the Bristol Hippodrome major work has taken place to ensure the 100-year-old theatre is ready for the technical scenery and automated elements of the show, not to mention life-size elephants and buffalo stampedes.
The Lion King is at the Bristol Hippodrome from August 31 until November 17, at 7.30pm from Tuesday to Saturday and at 2.30pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
For tickets call 0844 871 3012.