The national Broadway musical tour of The Lion King has made it's way to Lubbock and brought one West Texas native back home to his roots, Peter Hargrave. With the help of the Buddy Holly Hall I was able to speak with Peter one on one about his time portraying the iconic lion, and usurper, of Pride Rock in The Lion King.

Q: Peter Hargrave you grew up in Amarillo how did you get started in the theater since Texas is very much a sports (football) focused state?

Growing up in Amarillo, we had an amazing community theater program that was run by Linda Hughes and Mary Reynolds., Amarillo Theater had such a presence in my life. That program was out of Amarillo college as well as we had a youth Summer musical so I was able to play sports during the year and then I would Troy Bolton it and do the Youth Summer Musical. I didn't really let my friends in on that, but musical theater was always sort of my first love that was really nurtured by the people of West Texas with an incredible community theater program, so I'm the lucky beneficiary of that.

Q: So tell me more about how you turned down playing college football to pursue theater?

I had a couple of offers to play at schools ACU sized and a little bit smaller but musical theater always had my heart. 

Q: I've seen you on Law and Order SVU and saw you were on Dynasty, while there's an obvious difference between TV and being on stage which do you prefer? Is one easier?

I grew up onstage and so that always feels like coming home in a certain way. It presents its own challenge in the sense that I have an incredible sense of responsibility. Every night we do The Lion King for 2000 people and that's their experience of The Lion King so I wanted to do our show justice. At the same time, TV is very different because you get, you know, one to three takes of it and then it exists on TV forever and watching it later you're like, well, I wish I could have some of those back. But it's it's very cool to have that experience of being able to share that work with so many people at one time. It's also cool to have the intimate experience of theater. Like, whatever happens in the theater that night is the experience of 2000 people and so it's a very special thing to know that you're sharing an experience with a select group of people.

Q: So when you went into audition, did you initially want to audition for Scar or did you have someone else in mind?

It was always for Scar and you know I have a rather large nose, as you've seen on Law and Order, it sort of gives itself to the villain. Something about Lion King is I saw it when I was 11 years old and is one of the shows that sort of gave me this idea that theater was something that I wanted to do as a career. And the fact that this show, is so amazing that it has made it 22 years later for me to get to be a part of it, I would happily be anything in the show. Our show has a great hero in Simba and a great hero needs an outstanding villain and I'm happy to be that villain just so our show can operate every night.

Q: The costumes look really great how long does it take you to get into make-up, the headpieces, and wardrobe?

It's a process of all of us. Everyone has a longer process than most shows but for me, I spend about 35 to 40 minutes in the makeup chair. Then getting into costume takes about 12 minutes, so I show up about an hour and 15 minutes before the show. I finish up any warming up I have to do and then an hour I start my makeup process and then go straight into my costume process and then it's time to do this show.

Q: I've seen the head headpiece you wear moves. Do you have any difficulties with moving parts?

The costume design is incredible and have these mechanics in my legs that communicate via a sort of Bluetooth sort of technology with a remote control that's in my hand. That's how the mask comes down in front of my face and goes back up onto my head is all control of my hand. Every now and again there's a little malfunction between the signal because something else is happening in the theater. The mask is only eight oz. and the technology that they use to build that mask makes it look so dense, but it is so much lighter than what I expected, certainly. So it's even if I have a slight moment where it comes down from my face, it doesn't hurt it's one of those live theater moment.

Q: Have you noticed that you have any qualities you share with Scar?

You know, like I think that's our job as actors is to draw these parallels to us and I have an older sister, and she's a lot more intelligent than I was, especially at school. As I've gotten older I sort of rationalized both things, just our different strengths. That's how Scar feels, he has this older brother that's just perfect in every single way, and I was telling the story about when I was in geometry in 9th grade. I didn't get as good of a test as my teacher expected after having had my sister, she couldn't believe a Hargrave failed a math test. It just cut me to my core and I think that Scar. He's just been told that his whole life "I can't believe this is coming from your family" coming from this perfect person and probably just has different skills. So that's where it really empathetic with Scar but I would handle my pain a little bit differently than he does. But I fully understand where he's coming from, I definitely understand that for sure.

Q: Just tell us a little bit about why people need to see the show in person.

It is a sensory spectacle like you've never experienced in your life, you know it is a celebration of puppetry, a celebration of dance, it is a celebration of language. Hearing our South African cast members go through the different languages in our show which is Zulu, Swahili, Xhosa. It's just an amazing experience to be around, such brilliant visuals as we sing through the amazing music that's written by Elton John and Tim Rice in our show. It's all centered around this really unifying story that is nostalgic for so many of us that watched the VHS over and over and over again when we were kids. It's also a brand new experience that you can have live right in front of you every night.

Tickets for The Lion King can be purchased on the Buddy Holly Hall website. The Buddy Holly Hall brings traveling Broadway shows to Lubbock to enrich and benefit admirers and friends of the arts.

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