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BWW Interview: Jürgen Hooper Says DISNEY'S THE LION KING at the Detroit Opera House is Something Timeless to Behold

See one of Broadway's biggest hits right here in Detroit from January 27th through February 20th.

The Lion King
Jürgen Hooper as Zazu
©Disney

Disney's The Lion King is finally coming back to Detroit for nearly a month-long run from January 27th through February 20th! As the third longest running show on Broadway, The Lion King has been selling out tickets all over the world since it opened on Broadway in 1997. Based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name, The Lion King is a gorgeous feat of costuming, makeup, choreography, music, and more. It's one of those pieces in which everyone will find something to enjoy.

BroadwayWorld Detroit interviewed Jürgen Hooper ahead of their stint in Detroit. In The Lion King, Hooper plays Zazu, a hornbill that serves as the advisor to the royal family in the setting of the show, the Pride Lands. Read our interview below!


BroadwayWorld Detroit: Can you give BroadwayWorld Detroit readers a brief introduction to you and your theatre career?

Jürgen Hooper: Hi! My name is Jürgen Hooper. I was born in Germany and raised in Maryland. I've been acting since I was 6, went to college for theatre, and then moved to Chicago after I graduated. I have been acting professionally in Chicago ever since, save the hottest of seconds in New York, where I was in a short-short-lived Broadway show that closed after a week. So, that was fun. For the most part I am a theatre actor, but I have done some TV and film. I started with The Lion King in September of 2019.

What was your initial introduction to The Lion King?

I saw the animated film in the movie theater when I was a kid, loved it and bought my hard-shell VHS of it back in the day. Interestingly, I never actually saw the stage show until I was cast as Zazu, but was absolutely blown away by it.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of being in this specific production of The Lion King at this moment in time?

The most rewarding thing has been the audience reactions at the top of the show: that energy of gathering together again just to see a live show. Coupled with the high theatricality of "Circle of Life," it really was an overwhelming experience. Even coming together at the first rehearsal, there's something about that opening number that really brings about an intense swell of emotion in me.

What do you enjoy most about playing the role of Zazu?

I enjoy getting to work with the young actors playing Simba and Nala. The energy and ideas they bring to their characters is just a delight and I've made sure the care Zazu has for these children and this family he serves shines through, despite all the stress they may put him through.

Do you have a favorite scene and/or song that you particularly look forward to every night?

I have two: one of mine and one other. I love the Madness of King Scar scene at the top of Act 2. Just hearing the audience witness these two caustic, trapped creatures try to get comfort or distance from one another is really great. Also "Endless Night," because it's a beautiful song and Darian Sanders's (who plays Simba) voice is incredible.


What do you believe makes The Lion King story so beloved to this day?

The story of The Lion King is timeless and the themes of family, love and duty/responsibility resonate with people of all ages especially during this pandemic when we're reminded of what and how much we owe one another. Beyond just being a feast for the eyes and the senses, this production is just every reason we come to the theatre. You have these incredible songs, phenomenal dancers performing choreography that tells a story of its own while enhancing the story around it. We come to the theater to see powerful stories and be moved by what the human body in space is able to do, and how it can convey a story. Add to that these intricate, beautifully designed puppets and this set and it just makes the world so much bigger and more wonderful. When the production is firing on all cylinders it really is something to behold.


For more information or to buy tickets to Disney's The Lion King, visit broadwayindetroit.com, call 800-982-2787, or visit the Fisher Theatre in downtown Detroit.

To keep updated with Disney's The Lion King, follow them on their website at lionking.com, on Twitter at @TheLionKing, on Instagram at @thelionking, on Facebook at facebook.com/TheLionKingUSA, and TikTok at @disneyonbroadway.



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