Lion’s share of talent

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Fr Dan McCaughan with actors, Lachie Edgell ‘adult Simba’ and Chloe Lewis ‘young Simba’. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Fr Dan McCaughan with actors, Lachie Edgell ‘adult Simba’ and Chloe Lewis ‘young Simba’. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Playing a father figure is nothing new for Dan McCaughan.

The popular young priest from Sutherland is taking to the stage to play the lead in Our Lady Star of the Sea’s upcoming production of The Lion King.

Playing Mufasa, the singing priest is starring in the redemptive story with themes grounded in Scripture and based on triumph over tragedy.

Well known – unless you’ve been living under Pride Rock – is that much of the success of the time-honoured favourite is due not only to its beautifully crafted story but its deep Catholic symbolism.

Fr Dan said that while he doesn’t go looking for this type of “attention” he feels very comfortable with the production and its overall message.

He said it embraces themes of fatherhood, protecting children, preparing kids for the future and leading others with grace.

And while he admits that adding to his already hectic schedule is a little like entering a lion’s den, he said it was very hard to say no to such a good cause.

“I certainly don’t go looking for this sort of attention but I love the school and when it’s for them I just can’t say no,” he smiled. “And it’s such a good story, Mufasa is a very positive, paternal figure who not only displays love and the protection of a child but also peace, acceptance and forgiveness.

“I am used to hamming it up a bit so there is a fair bit of pressure on me as it is such a serious role.

Fr Dan McCaughan with the cast of Our Lady Star of the Sea’s production of The Lion King. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Fr Dan McCaughan with the cast of Our Lady Star of the Sea’s production of The Lion King. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

“Due to the protective character I am playing, I have to be angry and yell at some of the kids which is something I’m certainly not used to.

“I am now realising the gravitas of the role and know I need to be authentic and realistic to make it work.”

Music and creative arts teacher Anne-Marie McAdams, who has been working on bringing the production to life for almost 12 months, said having Fr Dan involved was a “Godsend”. She said the project was a celebration of the many gifts and talents of not only every student in the school but also a handful of parents, teachers and of course the local priest.

“Putting on a show like this requires a lot of hard work, dedication and long hours but we all know it’s going to be worth it,” she said.

“Giving every student in the school their five minutes of fame is such a valuable lesson for them as it teaches them to be creative, social and focused. Fr Dan is so busy and has so much on his plate but is always there to support us when we need him.

“Being involved is a daily reminder he is a human being like the rest of us and an integral part of its success.”

The Lion King will be performed at Aquinas College, Menai, on Thursday 21 November. Contact the school for tickets (9524 5543).