Why should you go see the touring Broadway production of “Disney’s The Lion King” while it’s being performed at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts? Because there isn’t a reason you shouldn’t. And there’s also the fact that University of Miami alumni Maia Moss is one of the performers.
“I really love my job. I have a passion for theater. I will somehow always do theater, it’s in my blood, it’s my passion,” Moss said.
Moss has been touring the United States with the “Disney’s The Lion King” production with her husband and almost 10-month-old daughter since 2004. But she first solidified her passion for the performing arts in high school after seeing the musical “Les Miserables” on Broadway as part of a class trip.
“At UM, Maia learned how to act, how to create a believable character whether she was performing in a play or a musical. She came here with a naturally strong and impressive singing voice, and (she has) tons of energy and not afraid of anything,” one of Moss’s Theater Arts Professor Bruce Lecure said.
“I often look at a picture on my office wall of Maia in my Ring Theatre production of ‘The Colored Museum.’ She was a real standout in that production. Watching her play Momma during the song where she mourns the killing of her son is something I will never forget. The number was a show stopper!”
As an undergraduate at UM, Moss performed in about six Ring Theater productions and worked the crew for other productions. After graduating with a BSA in musical theater in 2000, she went on to perform at Disney’s Epcot in an a cappella group for a few years.
While performing at Disney, the casting director for the Broadway production of “Disney’s The Lion King” held open auditions in Orlando.
“He didn’t have anything for me at the moment, but said to call him when I was in NY. I thought he was just blowing smoke, but I followed through which is important in this business. You never know what the casting directors are looking for at the moment but you always have to be ready for that next opportunity,” Moss said.
A few years later, Moss moved to New York with her husband and became involved with a few off-Broadway productions as well as modeling.
“My only regret is that when I moved from Orlando to New York, I wish I had been more patient for that move. Initially, we struggled, I hadn’t done my research and the cost of living is insane,” Moss said.
But the struggle paid off and in 2004, after following through with her previous auditions, she joined the touring cast of “Disney’s The Lion King.”
“We typically don’t rehearse every week, it’s sporadic, but we try to keep the show tight. It really is a fantastic schedule because we’re in each city for about six weeks and I get to really explore and experience each city,” Moss said.
But how exactly does Disney bring animated animals to live on stage? Perfectly. The musical performance is exceptional and with memorable songs that we all sang along with as kids such as “I just can’t wait to be king” and “Hakuna Matata,” this is a performance all ages can enjoy.
The costumes seemingly turn people into safari animals and help transports the audience from their seats to the animal kingdom. Phindile Mkhize, a native South African, plays the wise “Rafiki” and brings the native safari feel to stage with her through her character’s chants.
Max Casella (Vinnie from “Doogie Howser”) even got swept with animal fever and plays the comedic meerkat, Timon, and Moss is an ensemble member as well as an understudy for Shenzi, the conniving hyena and follower of Scar.
“I’m so proud to be a part of this production. Anyone will love it and I can say that with certainty. This is a piece of theater that is so perfect for everyone. There are beautiful music and costumes,” Moss said.
Moss plans to remain with the tour for a few more years and then either return to New York or move back to her hometown of Atlanta.
“Maia has a very strong sense of who she is, and an equally strong sense of purpose–so very important if one wants a career in the arts. She has managed to combine work with a solid personal life. It’s a wonderful and rare opportunity for a young performer to be able to have such a package,” Moss’s former voice teacher and professor at the Frost School of Music Kimberly Daniel de Acha said.
“I’m thrilled to be coming back to South Florida. I need to get some UM gear for my daughter,” Moss said.
“Disney’s The Lion King” will be at the Broward Center of the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale from April 19- June 3.
Currently, “Disney’s The Lion King” it’s in its 10th sold-out year on Broadway along with two United States National Tours, London, Hamburg, Toyko and Seoul productions with a Johannesburg, South Africa production being added in June 2007 and a French-language production opening in Paris in September 2007.
For tickets and more information visit http://disney.go.com/theatre/thelionking/ or http://www.browardcenter.org/.
Bari Lieberman is EDGE Editor and can be contacted at email@example.com.