After almost five years of playing Scar in “The Lion King,” Patrick Brown still isn’t bored.
Brown was the villainous lion in the Singapore production before taking the role to the Broadway stage for almost two years. Now, he’s been touring with it for another two.
“I couldn’t have done it this long if I felt I had explored it all the way to the edge,” he says.
“It’s a great job, and I love the show, but I have to be personally challenged or I get bored. And this character, this show — it’s always a challenge.”
Brown chatted with us ahead of the show’s stint at the Academy of Music.
How does the tour compare to doing the show in one place?
We’re pretty lucky on this tour — I’ve done the tours where you do the one-nighters. With “The Lion King,” we do a minimum of three weeks in a city. There are good things and bad things: You don’t ever really have a home on the road. … But you embrace the adventure and discover what’s new in every city.
So you’re traveling around, always with the same group of people — do you all get sick of each other?
We become sort of a large, dysfunctional family. But ultimately, we take care of each other. And whatever theater you’re in, that becomes your home.
How similar is the show to the movie?
It’s the identical story, the identical characters. The same big themes of love, death, redemption, finding your place in the world. But I describe it as a really great present that’s also wrapped up in beautiful packaging.
Sometimes, even if you know what the present is, it makes it even better if the package looks really great.
I remember seeing it as a kid on Broadway and gasping at the costumes. The giraffes!
It’s eye-popping. At different times, it’s breathtakingly beautiful, it’s surreal, it’s moody, it’s dreamlike, it’s enchanting. There are so many different moods and colors to the look of the show.
Playing the villain
As Scar, you’re playing a character people know. They have a certain voice in mind from the movie. Do you try to copy that?
As an actor, to just copy someone, what you end up with is a hollow performance. There are basic character traits that Scar has to have, but I can only do them my way — I can’t do them like Jeremy Irons. But fortunately I’ve been blessed with a natural speaking voice that has similarities to him.
Is your Scar as scary?
Kids find him scary because he’s mean to young Simba, and he yells a lot. He’s a nasty authority figure. Adults find him scary because he’s conniving and manipulative. And they’ve probably had experiences with people like that in their lives.
And as an actor, it’s always more fun to play the villain.
Absolutely. Without a villain, there’s no story.
“The Lion King” is at the Academy of Music (240 S. Broad St.) May 20 to June 14. Tickets are on sale at www.kimmelcenter.org.