28 Oct 2021

'Give it a go': Auditions open for te reo Māori adaptation of 'The Lion King'

4:16 pm on 28 October 2021

Auditions for the upcoming te reo Māori adaptation of Disney's The Lion King are officially open.

The Lion King - Disney movie

Disney's classic The Lion King is set to be performed in te reo Māori. Photo: Supplied

The New Zealand creators behind the reo Māori film are calling for performers from across the motu to audition.

The much loved children's animated film first released in 1994 has since become one of the most successful Broadway shows in history.

Producer for the film and Oscar nominated film-maker Chelsea Winstanley said like the te reo Māori adaptation of Moana they encourage people from all rohe to take part in hopes of celebrating the many dialects in Aotearoa.

She said they are welcoming people with all levels of fluency in Te Reo Māori as well, those who audition will just need to be eager to learn and embrace the language.

Chelsea Winstanley

Chelsea Winstanley Photo: Kane Skennar

"One of the interesting things about The Lion King is we have decided to do a pan-iwi film, which really enables us to reach out to many different iwi and celebrate the dialect or differences that we have and that's quite exciting"

"Alot of iwi are doing work in their own rohe to revitalise te reo Māori and I think it's really important that we don't just homogenise the language and we celebrate each other's differences"

The reo Māori adaptation is being created in collaboration with Matewa Media with translations of the script being honed by several te reo experts much like the adaptation of Moana.

Renowned actor Rachel House will also be returning to work as a performance director on the film, alongside musician Rob Ruha, who will contribute as musical director.

Winstanley said the interest in working with Disney animated films is that they are whānau orientated which allows everyone to experience the storytelling and kōrero being shared.

She said they allow people especially during these times to have some joy and have their hearts filled.

"The beauty of a lot of Disney films is allows whānau to come together, you can be sitting there with your moko's right through to pakeke and enjoy it all together."

"They have themes through-out them, with The Lion King, you have themes that look at the land, preservation of land and how we look after that so there's really beautiful themes we can talk about now in a contemporary context."

Winstanley, along with fellow Matewa director, Tweedie Waititi, are looking forward to celebrating and uplifting te reo Māori. They encouraged everyone considering auditioning to just give it a go.

"We want everyone to be able to enjoy these films," Winstanley said.

"We want all of Māoridom but also all of Aotearoa to celebrate this exciting new film."

Auditions for the film will be held online for the first round where performers will need to offer their interpretations of a few different audition pieces while also singing waiata.

The Lion King in te reo Māori will be premiering in June of next year in line with Matariki celebrations with a reo Māori version of the Disney film Frozen also in the planning stages.

For more information about auditions, visit the Matewa Media website, auditions close 1 December.

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