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The pride of being a Lion King as spectacular Disney production comes to Edinburgh

© SuppliedDashaun Young in The Lion King.
Dashaun Young in The Lion King.

While Dames are currently doing their thing in theatres across the country, in Edinburgh’s Playhouse a King stands tall.

Six years after The Lion King first came to the UK’s largest theatre, the musical juggernaut is back in the capital for an incredible four-month run.

More than 100 million people across six continents have now seen the spectacular Disney production and, with a new movie version in cinemas this year, The Lion King’s popularity shows no signs of fading.

Playing the lead role of Simba is Dashaun Young, who first joined the production in 2007.

“I think the reason the show has kept going for as long as it has is down to the story,” he said. “It’s such a human tale and has something everyone can relate to, whether it’s the loss of a family member or dealing with insecurities.

“Simba is the best role I’ve ever played. There aren’t many roles where you can embrace all of your talents.”

He may have played Simba on and off for 12 years, but Dashaun was originally told he wasn’t right for the role.

It was only shining in another audition that led him to the African plains of The Lion King.

“It wasn’t really on my radar, because I had brought it up with my agents and the feedback we received was that I was too short to be Simba,” he continued.

“I moved on and was up for the Grease revival a while later. I made it through the audition stages and it was down to me and another guy.

“It turned out the casting director for Grease was also working on The Lion King, and they asked me if I had an interest in Simba, because they were looking for someone.

“I’m very pleased at how that worked out!”

Travelling is one of Dashaun’s biggest passions, so being part of The Lion King allows him to combine two loves.

“I started off on the American tour, then Broadway, London’s West End, Las Vegas, South Korea and now the UK.

“There are different vibes in different places. American cities are loud and boisterous, whereas South Korean audiences were very quiet and respectful, but they still liked it just as much.”

Even though the cast and crew are away from home over the festive season, the 35-year-old says it’s good to be able to put down roots in one city for so long.

“It really makes a difference. You get to stay and live in a comfortable place and you feel like you know where you are rather than with the touring life,” added Dashaun, who does gym work, yoga and Pilates, as well as working with a physical therapist, to deal with the intensity of the role.

“Most of us rent apartments, so we can do our own thing and cook our own food.

“Once the show is up and running, we have most of our days free, so we explore and see the sights.

“I’m very excited about Hogmanay in Edinburgh, everyone is talking about it and I’ve already bought my ticket.

“I’m also informed it’s a cold I won’t have felt before, which I’m a little nervous about, but I live in New York so hopefully I’m used to cold winters.”

The Lion King, Edinburgh Playhouse, Thursday until March 29, buy tickets here.

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