Puppeteering Pumbaa: John E. Brady Talks Broadway and Disney’s “The Lion King”

Step into the world of Broadway with John E. Brady, the voice behind the Pumbaa puppet in Disney’s “The Lion King” touring Broadway show. Uncover a special moment before he even auditioned on a Broadway stage and more on “Beyond the Mic with Sean Dillon”.

Welcome John E. Brady

We’re joined on the Starline by a Broadway star who has voiced over a hundred radio and TV commercials. You’ve seen him in the film Newsies the Musical as well as being part of the original cast. He’s performed as Timon, Pumbaa and Zazu on Broadway and is portraying Pumbaa in Disney’s The Lion King’s national tour. We welcome John E. Brady.

John, let’s go Beyond the Mic. When you are portraying such a beloved character each night how did the movie influence your own performance?

How did Julie Taymor’s costumes bring this show to life and yet be a 50 pound burden on you? 

So what goes into your costume and since you aren’t in the show for the first 30 minutes as Pumbaa, what are you doing during that time? How is your time balanced from when you first go on stage?

How do you go from the hotel to the show preparing to become Pumbaa and what’s your pre-show mental process?

Your performance is true artistry with acting and puppeteering. Which was harder for you in the beginning?

The Rockin’ 8:

It’s time for the Rockin’ 8, 8 random questions, answer with the first thing that comes to your mind. There is no Pressure.

1. Which is your favorite cast member other than Timon?

2. When you arrive in a new town, what’s the one thing you search out for?

3. Favorite Disney Cruise Ship?

4. Favorite TV show to binge?

5. How long do you stretch or do yoga daily?

6. Best thing about your wife and son Donovan?

7. Favorite place on the Penn State Campus?

8. Do you remember your 1st commercial?

The Back Half:

How did your audition for this role different for this show than any other you’ve worked on?

You’ve been called the most sarcastic person on the road, what’s the one thing people need to know about you?

You never saw yourself as Pumbaa, but excel at it.

As an actor, do you feel actors are sometimes unfairly typecast and hid in boxes of their own making?

Have you been to Africa and how has your work on this show since 1998 changed the way you see it?

The Lion King has grossed more than $1.8 billion dollars on Broadway. How was performing on the road different than when you were on Broadway?

When they taped your performance of Newsies for a movie of the show, how difficult was it for you to perform?

Best and worst moment from the Broadway career?

One Big Question:

SAG-AFTRA striked searching for a fair contract. As an actor, how did the pandemic hurt you for residuals and in turn your current health care for you and your family?

Squeezing in One More Question:

Why should people watch The Lion King?

The Wrap:

He loves being a dad for his rocket scientist son, stretches daily for 4 1/2 minutes, and wants you to watch the Lion King on tour now. John E. Brady thanks for taking the time to talk with us today.

And that my friends is Beyond the Mic.

Listen to other Beyond the Mic conversations with actors here.

Listen to other Beyond the Mic conversations with people theater here.

Check out the Lion King Online here.

What do you think?

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