Friday, May 3, 2013

faces // meet jim

time to switch things up a little! after our Phantom run, we're jumping to The Lion King to meet one of the cast members over there. This is someone I met in real life back in February, and I can't wait to introduce him to y'all.

meet jim ferris
actor. standby Pumbaa, Zazu, Timon
in The Lion King on Broadway

To start, introduce yourself to us! Who are you and what do you do?
Hi! I'm Jim Ferris and I am an actor whose is currently performing on Broadway in The Lion King..

How did you get started in theatre?
I became interested in theatre when I got cast in my first school play in the 7th grade. By the time I graduated high school, I started pursuing acting as a career.

How long have you been with this show?
I have been in The Lion King for the past 9 years.  The first 3 years was on the national tour and the last 6 in the Broadway company.

What's your favorite thing about being a stand-by?
Because I cover 3 of the lead "character roles" (Timon, Pumbaa & Zazu), I never get bored with the show. During an 8 show performance week, I probably average going on for one of my 3 roles 1 to 2 times a week. You don't get "burnt out" this way.

Something you love about being on set for The Lion King?
The show just turned 15 years old on Broadway back in November. Because this show has a timeless feeling, it never seems to get old. My favorite thing is to watch the audience, on a regular basis, experience the open number The Circle of Life. No matter how many times I have watched it, it never gets old.  It's so wild to see audience members from all over the world joyfully and emotionally react to the start of the show.

How does it feel, bringing The Lion King to life for children who have grown up watching the Disney movie?
It's wonderful because it's not the movie. The movie is SO amazing and their is no way to recreate it onstage. But, the way the original, creative team developed the musical has been one of the most artistic and thrilling things any child or adult can experience in live theatre..

My sisters are curious if grubs and bugs are actually slimy yet satisfying - do you have any experience in that area?
Slimy? Yes. Satisfying? Not really. You have to eat a lot of them to feel full.

What's something you enjoy doing on your off days, or in your free time?
My wife and I love to take day trips and visit nearby states. During the Spring and Summer I love to work in my garden.

What's been one of your career highlights?
This past November for The Lion King's 15th Anniversary performance, the entire audience was completely filled with celebrities, Lion King alum, VIP's, etc. The actor who plays Timon got sick earlier in the day and couldn't perform that night. I was called to play Timon for the big, gala performance. It was pretty thrilling. Plus, I got to meet a lot of celebs at the after-party.

Do you have a dream role you'd love to play someday?
I would love to play Truman Capote in the one man show TRU. And I would love to play Bill Snibson in the musical ME AND MY GIRL.

Favorite thing about being on Broadway?
The greatest thing about it is that I made it. It's a wonderful testament of working very hard to get to your goals. I'm living proof that if you work very hard, keep you eye on the prize, and DON'T GIVE UP, anything is possible.

Biggest challenge about being on Broadway?
Once you're  in a Broadway show, you want to be in another Broadway show.  The biggest challenge is working even harder on your craft so any other opportunities that come your way, you are on the top of your game. This will make you an asset and hopefully many people will want to work with you in the future.

Who are your heroes/role models?
My parents grit and work ethic are a part of my soul. My cousin Rob is one of the most creative people I have ever met. Creatively, I always wanted to have his brain. My theatrical inspiration is an actor named Jim Dale (you may know him as the narrator for all of the Harry Potter books). Some of my comedy influences are The Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, Charlie Chaplin and Nathan Lane.

Do you have a quote that challenges or inspires you?
It sounds intense but I really understand the challenges of the quote: FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION
Now listen, in order to get better at anything, you have to fail. Hopefully, the more you fail the better you will get an understanding what you are doing wrong and you are learning how to get better and better. I see failure not as the end of the road but the beginning of a new adventure.

Anything else you'd like to share with us?
I have no cavities. How about that ?!?
Liza's note: Haha! It must be all those slimy yet satisfying bugs - keeps the teeth in good condition. *wink*

Such a fun interview, and inspiring as well - thank you so much! I like to read these interviews aloud to my siblings, and they loved this one! Of course the question about the grubs came from them too - we couldn't resist. Hakuna Matata!

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