We decided to surprise the girls with tix for Lion King for Marta’s birthday. We hadn’t seen it before, even though it’s been on Broadway for 17 years. Well now we know why it’s stood strong for so long, and is the highest grossing Broadway show ever — it’s truly outstanding.
Margot has gotten into waiting by the stage door at the end of Broadway performances, to get autographs on her Playbill. With their makeup removed and elaborate puppet costumes replaced with winter jackets, it was really difficult to recognize the actors. But the girls immediately recognized Teshi Thomas (Little Nala) and Cole Bullock (Little Simba). Both kids are Margot’s age.
We met Teshi’s mom Evonne, and Cole’s dad. Such warm parents and you can see where their kids get the infectious smiles. The kids really hit it off! And in an unexpected twist….Teshi invited us upstairs to see backstage!!! OMG!!! It was late on a Sunday before their only day off per week. So generous. Best. Night. Ever.
Teshi’s mom Evonne told us they moved out here from Las Vegas when Teshi got the part. 3,000 kids auditioned, starting with online video. They didn’t know anyone in NY and had to bundle up for the cold. For the kids, the contracts are 6 months. Growth spurts begone! Of the 8 performances a week, these kids do 4; but they have to standby at every one, just in case.
Here, the girls are checking out the wing just off Stage Left. The Lion King puppetry/costumes are outrageous. Needless to say, all are labeled and meticulously stored.
Teshi Thomas and her mom Evonne are sharing what it’s like to stand on stage at the Minskoff Theater. The theater feels smaller here than it did from the Mezz.
Teshi shows us the ‘ladies side’ of the offstage dressing room, which is basically a ‘lioness den”. They have to make fast, elaborate changes!
Teshi said, “Look! There’s Scar and Simba!” who were about to break for the elevator. So yes, kids, we got to meet stars Gareth Saxe (Scar) and Aaron Nelson (Simba). In civilian garb, they’re normal dudes on the subway. They’re also friends, even though in the performance Gareth kills Aaron.
I’ve seen the Lion King billboards in Times Square for so many years, I was practically blind to them. Excellent art. Kind, generous people. All in all, a perfect New York evening.