IN just 12 years, Graeme Purcell has gone from Miller Public School captain to prince of the jungle.
The 24 year old has been selected as the understudy for Simba in the upcoming production of The Lion King, due to premiere at the Capitol Theatre on December 5.
The role is reward for almost two decades of hard work.
"I've always wanted Simba and I've always wanted to be in The Lion King," he said.
"I think its one of the greatest roles a male could have in the musical theatre industry.
"The first audition was on January 15 this year and I didn't find out I got the role until June or July. It was a six-month long period of auditions and sleepless nights — it's all I wanted.
"I didn't get Simba per se but I got understudy Simba and to me that's amazing."
Purcell, who also made it into the top six of television show So You Think You Can Dance (season one) was selected for his first professional musical production, Oliver, when he was 12.
"I played Dipper, one of Fagin's gang and also played one of the orphan boys," he said.
" I got a few days out of school a week and for a 12 year old that was great. I also got to be around other like-minded people.
"That age was the bully period for me so it was good to have work and be around those like-minded people that sung and dance."
As a result of Oliver he made the move from south-west Sydney into the city.
Since then his career has also taken him to America — where he was due to go again until The Lion King came calling.
Purcell dreams of forging a name for himself on the international stage.