The New York production of The Lion King, which celebrated its 10,000th performance on Broadway May 6, will welcome Davis Matthews and Donovan Louis Bazemore to the company beginning June 6 at the Minskoff Theatre.
The two actors, who will alternate in the role of Young Simba, will join current cast members Ava Hailey Harris and Jillian Paige Platero, who alternate as Young Nala. Matthews will be making his Broadway debut, while Bazemore appeared in The Lion King last year.
The Tony-winning musical officially opened November 13, 1997, at the New Amsterdam Theatre, subsequently transferring to the Minskoff Theatre in June 2006. There have been 27 touring and international productions over the life of the show, seen by 112 million people. Currently, 115,000 people enjoy the show in eight productions on three continents every week.
The Broadway cast is currently led by Michael Hollick as Scar, L. Steven Taylor as Mufasa, Tshidi Manye as Rafiki, Cameron Pow as Zazu, Ben Jeffrey as Pumbaa, Fred Berman as Timon, Brandon A. McCall as Simba, Pearl Khwezi as Nala, and James Brown-Orleans, Bonita J. Hamilton, and Robb Sapp as the hyenas Bonzai, Shenzi, and Ed, respectively.
Director, costume designer, and mask co-designer Julie Taymor, the first woman to win a Tony for Best Director of a Musical, remains actively involved in the show, launching new productions and maintaining the flagship Broadway production. Composer Lebo M and Tony-winning choreographer Garth Fagan hold their own records: With The Lion King at over 10,000 Main Stem performances, they are the longest-running Black composer and choreographer in Broadway history.
Many of the artists and craftspeople who launched the show remain an integral part of it. Lindiwe Dlamini has performed in the musical since its first pre-Broadway preview in Minneapolis summer 1997. Seven musicians have been in the orchestra pit since its Broadway opening, including Karl Jurman, who has been musical director since 2005. All told, 16 original staff members continue their work onstage and off.
Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), the worldwide gross of The Lion King musical exceeds that of any film, Broadway show, or other entertainment title in box-office history.
The Lion King won six Tony Awards in 1998: Best Musical, Best Scenic Design (Richard Hudson), Best Costume Design (Julie Taymor), Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Best Choreography (Garth Fagan), and Best Direction of a Musical. The international hit musical has also earned more than 70 major arts awards, including the 1998 NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Event of the Year, and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design.
The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rice’s songs from The Lion King animated film, along with three new songs by the pair. There's also additional musical material by Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor, and Hans Zimmer. It also inspired an album: Rhythm of the Pride Lands, written by Lebo M, Mark Mancina, and Hans Zimmer.
Other members of the creative team include Michael Curry (who designed the masks and puppets with Taymor), as well as sound designer Steve Canyon Kennedy, hair and makeup designer Michael Ward, associate director Anthony Lyn, associate choreographer Marey Griffith, music supervisor Clement Ishmael, production supervisor Lisa Dawn Cave, and general manager Thomas Schlenk with casting by ARC's Mark Brandon. Anne Quart serves as co-producer.