From the day they arrived on this planet (well, on Broadway), they’ve captivated audiences with their jaw-dropping puppetry, inventive costumes and soaring melodies. Now, nearly 17 years later, The Lion King is celebrating yet another landmark: 7000 performances on the Great White Way. The Tony-winning Disney tuner hits the new milestone on September 3. Only three other shows have made it that far on Broadway: The Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Chicago.
The Julie Taymor-helmed production premiered in Minneapolis on July 13, 1997. Four months later, on November 13, the show celebrated its opening night on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre. It went on to win six 1998 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Direction. On June 13, 2006, the production moved to its current home, the Minskoff Theatre. The show has played 21 countries and has been translated into eight different languages.
Based on the popular Disney film, The Lion King is the story of Simba, a young lion prince who idolizes his kingly father, Mufasa, while youthfully shirking the responsibility his position in life requires. When an unthinkable tragedy, orchestrated by Simba’s wicked uncle, Scar, takes his father’s life, Simba flees the Pride Lands. He starts anew, but eventually, the weight of responsibility comes to find the adult prince. The score by Elton John and Tim Rice features the songs “The Circle of Life” and the Oscar-winning “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.”
The current cast of The Lion King features Aaron Nelson as Simba, Chantel Riley as Nala, Alton Fitzgerald White as Mufasa, Gareth Saxe as Scar, Nteliseng Nkhela as Rafiki, Jeffrey Kuhn as Zazu, Ben Jeffrey as Pumbaa and Fred Berman as Timon. Additional cast members include James Brown-Orleans, Bonita J. Hamilton, Enrique Segura, Cole Bullock, Caleb McLaughlin, Teshi Thomas and Kaci Walfall.