Ask any of the kids when they first began practicing their “roars” for the Los Angeles production of “The Lion King” and all four — Adrian Diamond, KaRonn Henderson, Jazmn and Lisa Tucker — agree it occurred exactly when they heard they had been cast to co-star in the Tony Award-winning show.
“I was jumping up and down, bouncing off the walls,” says Tucker, 11, who along with Jazmn plays young Nala. “It is probably the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.”
Adds 11-year-old Diamond, who speaks fluent Portuguese, and, with Henderson, plays the young Simba: “When I got the call, I couldn’t stop moving. I ran from one end of the house to the other.”
The theatrical and showbiz backgrounds for each of these performers is varied: Diamond has done small-scale legit work, Henderson is experienced in voice-over, Jazmn can be heard on Radio Disney and Tucker took the stage for several productions with the Orange County Children’s Theater and sang the national anthem at an Anaheim Angels baseball game.
Studying for a history test is pressure for enough pre-teens but how about acting in front of a packed Pantages Theatre every night, in which some patrons have paid upward of $100 per seat and come in with extremely high expectations?
Jazmn’s jitters dissipated once she got into a routine.
“When I started performing in the show, I thought I would be nervous but when I heard all the cheering and applause, all the nervousness disappeared,” she admits.
All four are enthusiastic about continuing in theater as they get older, realizing, of course, that future productions might not be as elaborate as the Julie Taymor-directed “Lion King.” Then again, some have higher, er, taller, expectations.
“I enjoy this a lot, but I also want to be a professional basketball player,” Henderson says.