Native Detroiter John Sloan III is thrilled to be part of the company of Disney's The Lion King and bringing it back to his hometown. The production, a staple in New York City for over fifteen years and on tour for over ten years, is brought to the Motor City by Broadway in Detroit and will be housed at the Detroit Opera House for three weeks.
Born and raised in Detroit, Sloan has been with the touring production for over five years. "Touring is an experience and has its ups and down, but the stability is great and I love being on the road," he says. "I really love this show and being part of it since it's such an iconic movie that everyone knows and loves."
The show based off the beloved 1994 Disney animated film and since the musical opened in 1997, it has recently become the fifth longest-running and highest-grossing musical in Broadway history. It won six Tony Awards in 1998 including Best Musical and includes all the well-known songs from the film by Elton John and Tim Rice along with additional music wrote for the musical. "The show keeps the iconic moments from the movie like 'I Just Can't Wait to Be King' and 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight?' and it captures the essence of the film while the stage elements bring it to life in a whole new way," says Sloan. "It's really a brilliant piece of work in itself and obviously 'Circle of Life' is one of the best openings in the history of musical theatre."
Sloan is part of the ensemble and recently has taken over the role of understudy for the hyena, Banzai. "Being in the ensemble you are performing eight shows a week and there is this community sense within it that we all share." he says, "Then at the same time, I get the opportunity every once in awhile in to play Banzai and have more of a journey as an actor, which is what every artist really strives for. We want to have a journey, tell a story, and communicate with the audience."
Growing in Detroit, Sloan was brought up in the arts by parents. His mother is a music teacher in the Detroit school district and father is a philosophy teacher at a local community college. He credits his music and art instincts to his mother and that his father taught him why it is important to follow your passion and your love. "I tell people all the time that my mother taught me how to do and my father taught me why," says Sloan.
All his family encouragement and his training have prepared Sloan to perform in the complex show every night. "I have ten costumes changes, but in all honestly that is not a lot for our show," he says. "Some cast members have fifteen or sixteen. A great thing about The Lion King is that there are so many spectacles in the show that the sets and costumes help create. It's a show that both kids and adults can enjoy equally." He also relates the show to the city of Detroit by saying "The Lion King about redemption, glory, and pride, and I think that is something that Detroit has and can understand."
The Lion King opens tonight and run through March 10th at the Detroit Opera House. For more information or tickets, visit www.broadwayindetroit.com.