Elon Music Theatre alumna joins cast of ‘The Lion King’

Phylicia Pearl Mpasi ’15 becomes a part of the Disney family this summer as she performs with the Broadway National Tour of “The Lion King.”

Maryland native Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, who now goes by Phylicia Pearl, never anticipated her audition with Jay Binder would lead to her becoming a member of the Broadway National Tour of Disney’s “The Lion King.”

During the Elon Music Theatre Senior Casting Director Series, casting director Jay Binder auditioned and gave a Master Class to the Music Theatre Senior Class. Binder, president and chief executive officer of Binder Casting, has been involved in casting movie musicals Chicago, Hairspray and Nine, as well as countless shows on Broadway, regional productions and national tours.

After her audition, Binder told Pearl she would be called in for Shenzi. “I was so excited. I kept joking with my friends I was waiting for the call but got discouraged when I didn’t hear from Jay after two months,” Pearl said. “I figured the opportunity was long-gone.”

In the last week of her senior year, Pearl received a call from her agent saying Binder finally wanted to see her for the role of Shenzi and that she would find out if she got the role within the week. Anxious and excited, Pearl flew to New York City for two days of callbacks in front of the show’s assistant director and creative team.

During callbacks Pearl completed a workshop of Shenzi scenes and songs. On the last audition day, she was asked if she would like to be in the running for a role as the tour’s vocal swing,  to which she enthusiastically said yes. “I figured I just bombed my audition for Shenzi and they were being nice by considering me for a swing and not sending me back to Elon right away,” she adds.

Later her agent told her she was offered the vocal swing role and Shenzi understudy in “The Lion King” national tour. “I tried to play it cool like it wasn’t a huge deal, but then my agent said, ‘You can freak out this is a big deal to get this right out of college,’ so we screamed and jumped around the office,” she says.

Pearl begins rehearsals for the tour July 21 in Calgary, Alberta, and is excited to be able to have the opportunity to swing and understudy the show. After she finishes touring with “The Lion King,” Pearl plans to move to New York City to begin the next chapter of her career. “I know I have to get ‘Les Mis’ on Broadway … or an NBC Live special,” Pearl said with a laugh.

When asked what advice she could offer aspiring music theatre performers, she had this to say: “Always do the work. You have so little control when you walk into the room so focus on what you can control. Know that at your core, you are a storyteller and your talent is one-of-a-kind. I personally believe that what sets you apart from other people isn’t only your talent but it is the way you allow your own personal story and truth to shine through a character. You’ve been given a gift that the rest of the world needs to see and you owe it to yourself to allow that gift to shine. Always remember that you are enough and that dreams come true.”

Click here to check out the touring dates and get tickets to see Pearl perform at a theater near you.