Shangase turns Simba

2015-03-23 00:00

ZOLANI Shangase is buzzing with ­excitement as he prepares to travel to London to perform in Disney’s The Lion King.

The Pietermaritzburg-born musical theatre star has been wowing audiences since he was a teenager when he played Friedrich von Trapp in The Sound of ­Music at the Playhouse in Durban. More recently he has won acclaim in Showboat, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and ­David Kramer’s Orpheus in Africa.

Shangase — who grew up in Imbali and matriculated from Haythorne Secondary School in Woodlands, before heading off to Tshwane University of Technology to study musical theatre — auditioned for The Lion King by video.

“I sent in an audition and got a call back for the auditions in South Africa in August. Then I found out a few months later that I had got the chance to be in the show,” he said.

“They actually wanted me to join them in December, but it clashed with Orpheus so I opted to stay in South Africa and then they called me again and asked if I could come when my contract ended.

“Of course, I said ‘yes’. It’s been a dream of mine for so long. It’s one of those shows that everyone wants to do and to be able to do it in the West End is even better.”

Shangase will be part of the ensemble, but will get to play the key role of Simba in some matinee performances.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to grow within the Disney company, and I might even get to play Simba full-time in one of their other productions,” he said.

Shangase said his family was “super excited” to see him getting the chance to live his dream. “I can’t wait to get them over to the UK to see the show,” he added.

Shangase’s career, to date, has included 254 performances of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Johannesburg and Cape Town, between other commitments, including Janice Honeyman’s pantomime Aladdin.

“Rocky was the most insane experience,” he says of the show, which recently closed after 444 performances. “It was my first professional gig after studying musical theatre and it taught me so much about working with artists who have been doing this for so many years.

“And it has been great preparation for doing a show like The Lion King. I now know that I can do a long run.”

Shangase, who also sang in Handel’s Messiah in Durban and Phelelani Mnomiya’s opera Ingqayizivela, created for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, begins rehearsals for The Lion King on March 31.

The Disney musical is now in its ­sixteenth year at London’s Lyceum ­Theatre and has just completed a ­record-breaking tour of the United ­Kingdom and Ireland.

The show has been seen by over 75 million people around the world, and, in addition to the London production, is currently being staged in New York, Hamburg, Tokyo, Madrid, Brisbane and on tour across North America and Japan.

Further productions are set to open in Mexico City and Shanghai Disney ­Resort.

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