2008-06-06 / Community

Local Lion Roars From Rockaway To Broadway

By Nicholas Briano

Rockaway resident and Scholars' Academy student, Guy Barfield II dressed as Young Simba in Disney's Broadway production of "The Lion King."
He auditioned several times for the part since age seven and each time he was sent back home because he wasn't quite ready. But he stayed optimistic, considering they kept calling him back.

Countless auditions later, the now 11-year-old Guy Barfield II is a Broadway star in Disney's "The Lion King" in which he plays Young Simba.

Guy, Rockaway resident and straight "A" Scholars' Academy student, has been performing several times a week since August of 2007 and will continue through the end of the summer.

"I always liked to entertain people," Barfield said. "I was seven, when my mom's friend told her about an open audition. The cast directors saw something they liked, but I was a little too short, so they kept calling me back."

He performs four times a week, but still manages to maintain spectacular grades, even doing his homework during the second act while waiting for the curtain call.

Guy poses with his mother, Lynette; sister, Bria; and father, Guy Sr. last year when he made his debut. He will be performing on Broadway until August 24.
"The cast members sometimes tease me about doing my homework at work," he laughed.

Guy's part in the show requires him to do a tremendous amount of singing and dancing, which he describes as challenging, tiring, but still fun.

"My favorite scene is 'Hakuna Matata,' because by then, I am really tired and I know it is almost over," he said. "Also it is a very positive scene in the play."

"Hakuna Matata" is the last scene in act one and the last scene of the play involving Young Simba before the second act opens up to older Simba returning back home to face off against his uncle Scar, who killed Simba's father, Mustafa.

Even though it is challenging, Guy understands the implications of being involved in a show of this magnitude.

"Broadway wants you to be the best you can be," he said.

Guy also believes in the messages and values portrayed in the production, describing the meaning of its characters and how the story can teach valuable lessons in life.

The adult actors in the play, he added, serve as role models for him as well. He continues to learn something from them everyday.

"My mom in the show is always talking to me and teaching me about things in life and performing," he said.

Guy said he is excited about being part of the production, but adds that, upon hearing the news that he was finally selected for the role, "My mom and dad were more excited than me. My mom cried and called everyone in the family," he said.

But it was an especially thrilling day when Guy's favorite teacher, Ms. Matt, came to watch him for the first time.

"She saw it twice," he said. "And she cried twice. She loved it and thought it was a big step up for me to perform on Broadway."

Guy appreciates that his school, Scholars' Academy, is cooperative and understanding of his hectic Broadway schedule.

But no one understands the complexity of Guy's schedule more than his parents. They continue to support him, even though they know it can get exhausting going back and forth from Rockaway to Manhattan several times a week and getting home close to midnight whenever he performs.

"Things become kind of hectic at times," his mother Lynette said.

Guy's sister, Bria, 14, also attends LaGuardia High School, and is heavily involved with playing tenor saxophone.

As a result, the Barfields have become masters at time management.

"Me and my husband work together as a team in raising our kids," Lynette said.

Lynette manages Guy, booking his auditions, and appointments, while Guy Barfield Sr. takes his son to all his jobs and auditions and commutes with him to "The Lion King" performances.

"The whole experience has been amazing," Guy's father said. "Occasionally he looks worn out, but he's got a lot of energy, more than me!"

Guy Sr. says his son's dedication and discipline is what keeps him going.

"As a parent I am proud of his determination and will to stick with things and never give up," he said. "Every time they called him back for another audition his face would light up."

Guy says his goal is to do movies and more Broadway shows, but would also like to play the older Simba in "The Lion King."

But Young Simba will have to wait again for the part and get a little taller before that happens.

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