Can’t Wait to be King

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Photo by Joan Marcus, courtesy OKC Broadway.

The Lion King is, arguably, the most beloved Disney movie to date. With a genius mixture of comedy and heartbreak (the stampede scene, anyone?), plus unforgettable musical numbers and endearing characters, this 1994 film has stood the test of time to become a bona fide Disney classic.

For those who want more than to religiously rewatch the film or anticipate the live action version (that has yet to announce a release date), snag a ticket to the Broadway adaptation hitting the Civic Center Music Hall, courtesy of OKC Broadway. Nia Holloway, who plays Simba’s voice of reason/best friend/betrothed, Nala, promises a thrilling show from start to finish.

“You’re still going to get that feeling you got when watching it as a kid – that same excitement,” she says. “The story is the same. The difference is seeing it with no distractions. Everything is live; that’s the beauty of theater.”

Holloway, who snagged the role at 17 despite Disney’s age requirement of 18, is the youngest woman to play Nala in the Broadway production’s 19-year history. She’s now 21, but still finds the magic in every performance.

“You’re going to be speechless, because everything is right there in front of your face. The emotions are live, the people are real, and the costumes are absolutely amazing,” she says.

Although the show stays loyal to the movie in terms of plot, characters and music, Disney took creative liberties by expanding Nala’s role to include more musical numbers. Holloway’s newly added favorite is “Shadowland,” which brings the audience into the second act and serves as Nala’s paramount moment in the show.

“‘Shadowland’ is where the story turns – you get into the darkness and realness of the story. You’re going to go on an emotional roller coaster,” Holloway says. “Nala starts at a point of vulnerability, and by the end of the song it’s all triumph and victory. It definitely tugs on the heartstrings.”

Holloway’s biggest suggestion to viewers is to truly unplug before the show begins.

“I hope people come in and turn their phones off and really have no expectations,” she says. “Because they’re all going to get exceeded anyway.”

The show runs May 9-28. Visit okcbroadway.com for tickets.

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