No wor­ries in Pum­baa role

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Stage - Tanya MacNaughton

JOHN Xin­tavelo­nis has been able to get a lot of mileage out of play­ing a flat­u­lent warthog.

“When peo­ple find out you play Pum­baa they go berserk,” The Lion King star said.

“It’s the best role in the world. Pum­baa is a bit like Santa Claus; no one ever has a bad thing to say about Santa and Pum­baa is pretty much the same.

“He’s so naive and child-like, he never gets an­gry or up­set and is just so happy-go-lucky as a char­ac­ter, it’s just a gift of a role.”

Xin­tavelo­nis was part of the first Aus­tralian cast along­side Jamie McGre­gor, who played on­stage best friend Ti­mon.

Both are repris­ing their roles dur­ing the sea­son at Crown Theatre Perth.

“I’m very lucky that 10 years later it’s the same Ti­mon; the whole chem­istry was there straight away,” the Tas­ma­nian per­former said.

“It’s made the job ex­tremely easy, apart from the 20kg Pum­baa cos­tume.”

Xin­tavelo­nis, who has been in other mu­si­cals from South Pa­cific and The Boy from Oz to Billy El­liott and An­nie, said his favourite part of the show was un­doubt­edly singing Hakuna Matata. “We come in dur­ing the last 10 min­utes of the first act; we’re the last part you’ll see be­fore in­ter­val,” he said.

“Up un­til that point there’s been a whole bunch of story and the au­di­ence has been on an emo­tional roller­coaster, so when Ti­mon and Pum­baa come on, you can sense or even hear the au­di­ence re­lax.

“We have some fan­tas­tic lines. Simba grows up dur­ing the song and we close the act, so we get all the ac­co­lades for do­ing just 10 min­utes’ work.”

Xin­tavelo­nis said he loved that the Dis­ney mu­si­cal was not a car­bon copy of the film, al­though it still had all the clas­sic lines, mak­ing it pop­u­lar across the gen­er­a­tions.

“They’ve cut a song out and short­ened it a bit, but es­sen­tially it’s the same show whether you see it on the West End, Broad­way or Aus­tralia,” he said.

“It’s the show that keeps on giv­ing and peo­ple keep re­turn­ing to it. I’m so for­tu­nate the phone rang ask­ing me to come back.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d446845

John Xin­tavelo­nis as Pum­baa in

The Lion King.

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