Every November, to celebrate our wedding anniversary, my wife and I take in a bit of the Bard – something Shakespearean or a show based on his works. This year we chose a Sunday matinee of the multi award-winning musical THE LION KING, based on the celebrated 1994 Disney animated film which in turn was inspired by HAMLET. Celebrating its 19th year at the Lyceum Theatre in London’s West End after opening on Broadway in 1997, winning six Tony Awards, the show has seen 24 global productions, seen by over 90 million people. I decided to sketch a few of my favourite characters.
The first is Zazu, the much-loved red-beaked hornbill, who acts as the King’s adviser ‘Mufasa’s little stooge’ or Polonius in the Shakespearean context. Played by Gary Jordan, who said in a recent interview that he “loves every minute of it’, who not only has to act and sing, but has to be a puppeteer as well. “I have to combine the performance for the bird and the actor to make them look like one.”
Gary himself is in his 20th year in theatre with an impressive resume, including AVENUE Q, GREASE, and ANYONE CAN WHISTLE. He is also a highly regarded pianist and musical director working with drama schools and cabarets around London. I met him at the stage door after last Saturday’s matinee where he signed my drawing.