Who’s your (Scar) Daddy?

by Angela on July 30, 2012 · 14 comments

Two years ago, my son met his dad for the first time in a most unconventional, dramatic way. Because Max decided to exit the womb almost 2 months early, he caught Mike flat-footed on Pride Rock. My water broke right before Mike was to take the stage as Scar in The Lion King at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, and labor came fast and furious soon after.

As they say, the show must go on.

Mike finished the entire show, threw off his 40-pound costume, and raced through the casino and parking garage of the Mandalay — in FULL MAKEUP. This intricate face paint takes over 30 minutes to apply pre-show (that night it was done by Laura Sill, who was training Kristen Yardley), and removing it is a laborious process. And the labor Mike had at the top of his mind was his wife’s. So off he went, bounding into the St. Rose Hospital lobby in Henderson, completely oblivious to the gaping mouths and stares he was getting.

This is the face that coached me on my breathing, through painful contractions. It sure did the trick!

(Thank you Tracey Hammon-Hodge, for being with me through this glorious time, and taking these photos!)

Out popped Max after three hours of labor and 15 minutes of pushing. And this is how he reacted to his daddy’s face:

(This hospital scene was so hysterical, the Las Vegas Sun did a story about it!)

Fast forward to almost two years later. We’ve joined the touring company, with Mike performing in Minneapolis, Richmond, New Orleans, Orlando and Miami. Max had still not seen a full-out show of The Lion King, and we decided while in Greenville — in the words of Rafiki — “It is time.”

The performers actually don’t have access to “free” tickets normally, but we were able to get complimentary seats to a special Actor’s Fund performance (an extra show the whole cast and crew does gratis, in order to raise money for the Actor’s Equity union). Mike was set to play Scar at this particular show.

At the last minute, Mike balked at the idea of Max watching him as Scar. “He’s not even two. What if he thinks that’s really me? What if he doesn’t understand I’m acting? What if he’s scared and scarred forever?”

Guess who’s the dramatist in the family?

So I told Mike we weren’t going to come, but I had my fingers crossed behind my back. I didn’t want his anxiety about Max to affect his performance … so I lied.

At the show, Max was entranced. During the opening number “Circle of Life,” the animals parade down the aisles towards Pride Rock on stage. Max and I were sitting at the end of the aisle in the right orchestra, and Sihle Ngema, who plays the high antelope, stopped in front of us to bow down to Max. The Greenville audience went wild at this!  I had to take Max out of the theater only once, during “Chow Down” where the lights darken, the music gets menacing and the hyenas bark about eating Simba. I wasn’t really sure if he understood that the villain was his father — I would point Mike out, but he had no response, no big reaction. So the test would be after the show, backstage, seeing his Dad again in full makeup. This was his reaction:

Mike wasn’t mad that I lied about not coming to the show, upon seeing Max’s positive reaction to him. He actually was thankful I lied. “I would have been really stressed,” he admitted.

Son and father. Naturally.

Max is a little more dubious about Zazu, played by Mark Kaplan.

This was a two-show day, and it’s easier for the actors to stay in makeup for the couple of hours in between the two shows and relax in their dressing rooms than remove makeup, leave the theater, and have to reapply. Here, Mark and Mike snack on sandwiches in their shared space.

Overall, the second meeting with Scar Daddy went as well as it could have. Max has been one to just take the world in, gently. Since seeing the show, he’s been singing “Hakuna Matata” and parts of the Lioness Hunt. He calls Pumbaa a goat, and constantly demands to “Watch Buyi!” which is this promo video below, although our friend Buyi Zama is not the actual Rafiki in the promo.

What an amazing production to inextricably be a part of. What a ludicrous and priceless beginning of life story.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

steve m July 31, 2012 at 10:29 am

Hey this is unbelievable! I will share this with my kids and everyone we know who loves this show. Even those who don’t know the show will appreciate the high drama!


Angela July 31, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Steve, as always, thanks for your comments. Our family does have a flair for the dramatic from time to time!


Kim July 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm

This is an AMAZING story! This could be a Disney story of its own LOL!!!! The Lion King is pure magic and we were thrilled to have seen it. Thank you for sharing all your experiences with the show. It’s fun to read these anecdotes and see what goes on backstage. We hope youre time in Houston has been fun so far. ENJOY it all!!!!!!


Angela July 31, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Thanks Kim! We are liking Houston and staying cool. Glad you enjoyed The Lion King!


June H July 31, 2012 at 5:21 pm



Angela July 31, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Us too, June 😉


Sandra P. July 31, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Agreed with the above!! <3


Angela July 31, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Yes, Sandra!


Ron July 31, 2012 at 6:33 pm

When ever I read these posts, I feel as if I am really a part of LK tour! Thank you for sharing your lives. How brave!


Angela July 31, 2012 at 8:48 pm

We love hearing from you Ron and we are counting down the days until San Francisco! Kisses to Jana!


Dana DiGiacamo July 31, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I stumbled upon this blog and now I am obsessed — you are such a good writer and your lives are so fun and fascinating — i am forwarding to my theater group here in Dayton because everyone will get a big kick out of your stories and photos (which are beautiful btw) — safe travels and I look forward to keeping up!
Dana DiGiacomo


Angela July 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Dana, thanks for your sweet words. We love to share our unusual lives with people like you who have a love for theater. We look forward to hearing from you more.


Lion King Fanatic August 1, 2012 at 9:32 pm

OHMIGOD this is the absolute bestest story!!! I am CRYING!!! Not everyone gets to have SCAR as their DAD!!!! Max is so LUCKY!!!!


Catherine October 14, 2014 at 8:21 am

Oh my gosh, this is the best story! Loving your blog.


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