What’s a standby to do? Hakuna Matata!

by Mike on April 7, 2012 · 5 comments

This week has been unusual for me, as I was called on to perform as Scar on Wednesday and then yesterday, on for Pumbaa. Typically, I sit pretty in the dressing room throughout the show, “on-call” for both roles. But honestly, it’s not that often I get the call.

While it’s in my job description as the standby for Scar and Pumbaa to be prepared to go on at any given time, there’s always a little scrambling mentally and physically, especially if I’m given notice less than three hours before my call time. For instance, I didn’t get this past call for Scar until 6:25 pm. For an 8 pm show. That’s very late.

If I’m on for Scar and it’s an 8 pm show, my call time to be in the makeup chair is 7 pm, so I ideally need to get to the theater by 6:30 pm to sign in, get changed and warm-up my voice and body.  When I got the call at 6:25 pm, I was in the middle of dinner with my family, in Bywater. You can guess what chaos (internal and external) ensued from that point.  But, as we say in the show, “Hakuna Matata.” No worries! I packed my bag, drove to and parked at the Mahalia Jackson Theater, ran to the stage door, signed in, and sat right down into makeup. No thorough warm-up for me! Not optimal, but I suppose with live theater you truly have to be adaptable — like getting called a few weeks ago in the middle of a Creole food festival. Wednesday ended up being a great show for me, although afterwards, my voice felt shredded because of my lack of a proper vocal warm-up.

What’s fun about going on for Pumbaa is that I get to share the stage with my good buddy Nick Cordileone, who plays Timon every night. Pumbaa’s an infinitely lower-pressure role compared to Scar — he’s mostly comedy and gas! Since Pumbaa and Timon don’t enter the show until right before intermission (hope this isn’t a spoiler for anyone), we get our makeup done next to last (last being adult Nala, who doesn’t make her entrance until the second act). Nick’s makeup takes longer than mine, but we still have time to goof off a bit in our dressing room. Hakuna Matata!

Here’s a shot of us before makeup:

And this is Pumbaa and Timon after we get into full makeup and costume, which takes anywhere between 20-40 minutes, depending on the makeup artist.  Our puppets are put on later, right before we enter the show:

Even off-stage, Pumbaa and Timon make quite the odd pair. But man, do we get along spectacularly!

Like with any job, work is so much better when you enjoy the people you work with. This is no exception.

Nick took this last picture with his iPhone. It’s sure to win some awards, I think!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve April 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm

These photos are priceless!


ANGELIQUE April 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm



Susan M. April 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Thanks for sharing these photos. Amazing.


Brenna Kovitz & Family April 10, 2012 at 5:24 am

Hello there Hollicks! We saw the Lion King last Friday and have to say it was truly wonderful! We looked up your blog and have had reading all about your truly interesting lives. We look forward to reading more, as it is fun to see what goes on “behind the scenes”. Have a blessed day!


LLM April 11, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Hi Mike, we saw the show last week and thought that Pumbaa and Timon were the best ever. You have a really cool job. Peace.


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