I got super excited when I heard that this happened. While the cast and creators of MOANA were in the UK promoting the film, actor Auli’i Cravalho got to meet and have a conversation with Nick Afoa; the man behind Simba in the West End production of THE LION KING, and one of only two Polynesian leading actors in the world in a Disney stage production.
In the video released by the official Disney Broadway YouTube channel, you’ll see them talk about playing their respective roles and how Afoa can definitely picture Cravalho doing theatre one day.
They even go in depth on something that I only recently realized, but it makes a lot of sense when you really think about it. With many of the Polynesian cultures having passed down their stories for generations via song and dance, that specific way of telling a story has naturally transcended over to working in musical theatre for Afoa; for it relies on the very same skill set needed to bring a story to life. That’s what he meant when he told Cravalho that when you hear the opening bars for “The Circle of Life,” a feeling takes over your being that can only be understood by the heart.
Disney teased this conversation between the two actors earlier this week when they released a short video of them singing “Hakuna Matata” together, and a few weeks ago via Instagram, Afoa posted a picture of him and Cravalho together.
You may recall reading a previous post I did on how Afoa and Gerald Ramsey (Mufasa in the North American touring production of THE LION KING) were trying to get Disney to invite them out to the premiere for MOANA. While it never came through for Ramsey, I’m happy to say that Afoa was in attendance of the UK premiere of the film.