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The Lion King Spotlight: Aaron Nelson

Broadway-The Lion King

As Lion King fans gear up for another resurrection of a childhood favorite, The Lion King Broadway Musical Event gears up its paws for another round of performances.  With the Broadway show entering its 16th Anniversary, rating as the highest grossing Broadway show of all time, fans are beginning to drum up as much buzz for the stars as they do the show.  The star highlighting the show, Aaron Nelson, is worth mentioning.  Chicago native and Broadway newbie, Aaron Nelson plays The Lion King’s main star, Simba. We thought we’d turn the spotlight up on this lovable character to hear about his past and present.

The Lion King Was the King of NFL?

Finally being able to fill his “dream role”, Aaron Nelson says that this occupation wasn’t exactly what he had in mind.  Nelson, from Chicago, IL, was somewhat of a sports hopeful, participating in contact sports such as martial arts and football.  His big dream was to someday be in the NFL, however, this dream was sideswiped by another childhood interest, the arts.  During Nelson’s teenage years, his mother helped him redirect his energy to opera and ballet.  Quite an interesting start from pigskins to singing with a lovable warthog in the Broadway musical, The Lion King.

Nelson became familiar with Disney at the age of nineteen, spending most of his working days in a suit.  He played Disneyland roles, disguised as Goofy, Tigger, Captain Hook, the Red Power Ranger, and the Queen of Hearts.  This would be the talented actor’s first brush with the fairytale land of Disney, and certainly not his last.

After his short-lived gig as several fairytale characters, Nelson would go on to explore the world of singing and songwriting. He pursed these arts under the stage name Apollo, whom he claims is his alter ego.  His career would later flourish, and he would soon find himself at the doorsteps of a Broadway show casting call for The Lion King.

Lion King

But it wasn’t that simple.  Nelson had to impress a casting director.  He also had big shoes to fill.  If he wowed the director, he would be the first actor since Jason Raize to win the role of Simba on The Lion King without having played the part outside of New York.  He was somewhat of a newbie, with odds stacked against him. The young and ambitious hopeful had known nothing about theater before the castings.  His journey began in 2008 where he attended his first audition for The Lion King. Nelson did not make the first audition in 2008, but kept returning each year after that, until finally, in August of 2013, he was cast as Simba.

Whether you’re a big fan of theater or not, both young and old alike can enjoy this Broadway reenactment of a timeless childhood favorite. With New York performances on a steady roll at 8 shows a week, there is no shortage of opportunity to catch this artistic display, as well as actors like Aaron Nelson, in the Broadway remake of The Lion King.

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