Can you feel the love tonight? Well, Dashaun Young can, and he does every night as audiences roar their approval. Starring as Simba in the touring production of The Lion King, Young is preparing for the migration to Edinburgh next month, where it takes over the Playhouse until the end of March.
Through the dark, dreich Scottish winter, where better to escape to than the African savannah?
“The first number in the show, Circle of Life, transports you,” Young says. “It’s my favourite number in the show. Phenomenal. You have the animals walking one-by-one on stage and it’s breathtaking.
“The puppetry, the costumes – it’s another level from the animated feature. You really watch these animals on stage come to life. You see the giraffe walk on stage for the first time and it actually looks like a giraffe walking on stage. It resonates as truth. You don’t have to suspend your disbelief too much because it blows your mind.”
Twenty-five years after the original Disney animation, The Lion King remains one of the best-loved modern fairytales. The photorealistic remake made over $1.6bn at the box office last year, but the extended life of the story is thanks partly to the long-running stage adaptation. More than 16 million people have watched the musical that this year celebrates its 20th anniversary in London’s West End.
“I think it has something for everyone,” says Young. “You can bring anyone to the show, it doesn’t have to be a musical theatre lover, and it’s just a heartfelt true story that resonates with so many people. Everyone has dealt with insecurities in life, trying to take your place and figuring out who you are.”