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Gugwana performs live as Shaman Rafiki

SHE has roamed all over the world with Disney’s The Lion King but Gugwana Dlamini never tires of stepping out on stage each night in the hit musical to play the role of baboon Rafiki.

It is perhaps no surprise given she opens the show with a rendition of Circle of Life, which brings the animals who inhabit the production alive in vivid glory, setting the tone for a musical for which the description ‘spectacular’ is something of an understatement.

Getting to do it again and again and, as the musical prepares to head to Edinburgh, taking it to new places for the very first time, is a thrilling experience.

She said: “It still feels new every time I sing Circle of Life. It’s a beautiful song and the reaction as I call all the animals is always special. It feels new every day, playing to different audiences and in different cities. It’s great to be a part of something so joyful.

“Of course, I’m looking forward to coming to Edinburgh. I am enjoying myself every night on that stage and the hard work and dedication needed to make it all happen make it all the more enjoyable.”

Gugwana, 35, knows all about dedication. She has been with the show for 11 years now and has played Rafiki all over the world.

She said: “I come a long way with the Lion King. I did London for five years then the US tour for four years, including Las Vegas for a year-and-a-half and Singapore, so this is my eleventh year. When I first came in I was a Rafiki cover, then I was the lead itself and I’m still enjoying it.

“There are two or three months here and there between production so I go home to South Africa and do other stuff as well but most of it, 90 per cent of the time, I am involved in the production of the Lion King, which has become like a family to me.”

Disney’s The Lion King is a worldwide theatrical phenomenon, seen by more than 70 million people.

Edinburgh will mark its Scottish premiere as part of its first UK tour and will be the show’s only Scottish dates.

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