Mormon Lion King Star Balances Faith and Fame – An RM’s journey. 

Grossing over $1 billion USD, The Lion King (Musical) is broadway’s most profitable in history. It makes internationally recognised stars of some of the hardest working performers in the industry. Work and fame, that for one Return Missionary, Latter-Day Saint hasn’t changed his commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, in fact, it’s enriched it.

At the start of each performance you’ll find, Graeme Purcell, with a few other cast members gathered to pray over that night’s performance. It’s a difficult balancing act for the Lion King musical star who’s on his way to Melbourne, having already performed for nine months in Sydney and in Brisbane.      

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At age eleven Graeme landed a role in the hit musical ‘Oliver’, performing all over Australia. It was at that early age that he knew this was to be his calling in life. “Doing what I love doesn’t at all feel like a job. Even though I’m tired, sore and mentally exhausted, it’s truly my passion.”

After some eventful beginnings, including making it into the top six of Network 10’s “So You Think You Can Dance”, Graeme has a ‘full on’ role in the cast of The Lion King and plays various characters as part of the six piece singing chorus.

“We sing all the company songs, like “Circle of Life”, “Hakuna Matata” and when Simba is sick or on leave, I go on as the main role”. 

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Most of his time is now spent in rehearsals and performing a rigorous weekly routine of eight shows over five days.

“But it’s my passion, it feels like I’m performing the Plan of Salvation, the circle of life sends the message to christians or otherwise that something makes everything grow and continue. I know this is leading people towards God, even if they don’t know it. This is the story is of a man being reminded of his calling as King. I picture Mufasa as God. Simba as us, and Rafiki as the [holy] spirit. I love the messages in the Lion King, I know this is where I’m meant to be”.

On returning from his two year missionary service in Wellington, New Zealand, Graeme was worried about getting back on stage. “Fundamentally my industry goes against the culture of mormonism. I regularly miss YSA activities, firesides, conventions, even some Sunday meetings. It’s not a 9-5 job. It could easily change your commitment to the gospel”.

Graeme keeps a photo of the first presidency in his dressing room as a reminder of who he is and what he stands for. “I try to attend lunchtime Institute, find lessons online and teach with the missionaries multiple times a week”.

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“I hope that people will look at me and see how I balance my career life and my faith and see that it is possible, it took many days of fasting and prayer to know that I should return to performing. I know who I am and where I need to be and I thank my friends who mean a lot to me right now, they are my support system”.

Graeme hopes that young Latter-Day Saints with aspirations for performing never forget who they represent. He advises, “Build a solid foundation, set your standards, go on a mission, have to be willing to sacrifice and know you are always on The Lord’s errand”.

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To find out more about Graeme go to;   

https://www.facebook.com/graeme.isaako

http://instagram.com/graemeisaako

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3 Responses

  1. Jeanette

    I enjoyed this article. I taught English in China and used songs and the video there. I could feel the strength of the message The Lion King gives and they felt it. I love it too. You are truly chosen to be part of it.

    Reply
  2. hunter

    I was wondering how you keep your standards straight. Like your costumes ? and modesty ?

    Reply

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