Vincent Jamal Hooper made his Broadway debut on Sept. 26 as Simba in “The Lion King.” The Disney musical has been running on the Main Stem for 25 years, and more than a dozen actors have played the iconic role — but Hooper is used to stepping into parts with big expectations.
In the upcoming episode of “The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal,” Hooper sits down with host Fadal to talk about “The Lion King” and what led to this moment in his career.
Before “The Lion King,” Hooper toured with “Hamilton” on and off for four years. “I like to call it my college years,” Hooper said. “I started out in the ensemble covering Hamilton and Burr and Lafayette/Jefferson, and then they later added George Washington and King George when I became a standby. It was just such a wonderful training ground.”
Of course, Hooper had to be able to step into roles that have quickly become stars of pop culture. His performance also had to meet the level of “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, when they performed together in the Puerto Rico run of the musical.
“Getting to go to Puerto Rico with Lin as our Hamilton — it’s just such an unprecedented thing,” Hooper reflected. “I don’t think anyone outside of the original company has had that privilege. So, to be able to stand onstage with him, and it’s like, ‘What’s your name, man?’ ‘Alexander —’ and that’s all you would get to hear because by that point the audience is on their feet screaming for — we would time it — 90 seconds. It’s so surreal.”
Now, Hooper is experiencing another dreamlike moment bowing in “The Lion King” — the first show he ever saw. “It’s a subtly spiritual show,” Hooper said. “There’s a lot of ways that I feel like I found myself connecting to it that feel very profound and sort of full circle.”
This week’s episode of “The Broadway Show” also includes interviews with Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman and the cast of their upcoming musical “Harmony.” Catch the stars of the revival of “Merrily We Roll Along” on the red carpet of their opening night. Producer Taraji P. Henson and members of the company of “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding” share their experiences from the red carpet, as well. See a preview of the new musical “How to Dance in Ohio.” Paul Wontorek sits down with Rob McClure and Maggie Lakis, the real-life married duo, as they embark on playing leads Daniel and Miranda Hillard in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Wontorek also hops across the pond for a look at what’s playing in London’s West End, including a chat with Tony Award winner Matt Doyle, who is starring as Frank Sinatra in the “Sinatra The Musical.” Check your local listings.