The Lion King musical is the third-longest running show in the history of Broadway. It’s also the highest-grossing production from the prestigious theater.
Based on the hit 1994 Disney animated film, The Lion King musical has been staged around the world and has consistently pulled in sell-out crowds since its opening in 1997. Its home base is in Minskoff Theatre in New York, and the musical has been going strong for more than 20 years. It has won several Tony Awards, including the Best Musical.
The show is directed by Julie Taymor, with music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi, and additional lyrics and music by Lebo M, Hans Zimmer, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, and Taymor. This musical features actors in various animal costumes and hollow puppets.
Broadway Production History
The Lion King musical debuted on July 8, 1997, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Orpheum Theatre. The show was successful before premiering on Broadway at a New Amsterdam Theatre on October 15, 1997, in previews. It was officially opened on November 13, 1997.
The production was moved to the Minskoff Theatre to make way for the Mary Poppins musical. Today, The Lion King is Broadway’s third longest-running show in history and has grossed more than $1 billion. Over 100 million people worldwide have seen the musical and have earned different honors and awards, including six Tony Awards. The show has won Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical, making Julie Taymor the first woman to earn this achievement.
In 2014, the production of The Lion King became the top-earning title in box-office history, both in film and stage productions, surpassing the record held by The Phantom of the Opera.
As of 2020, the show that is supposed to run at the Mayflower Theatre in the UK has suspended production due to the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the audiences, cast, and crew’s health and well-being. The alternative date for the next tour will come to Southampton from September 8 to October 15, 2022.
With a pulsing show driven by primal African rhythms, a jaw-dropping display of African wildlife, and unforgettable tunes like the “Circle of Life,” “HakunaMatata,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” – the Lion King is an unforgettable, vibrant show to see. This is a story about family, identity, and responsibility that can be enjoyed worldwide by persons of all ages.
The story revolves around Simba, a cub whose father is Mufasa, the lion king of the Pride Lands. When Mufasa is killed by Simba’s uncle Scar, Simba believes that his father’s death is his fault. Stricken by loss, grief, and guilt, he decided to run away from Pride Lands and the life he knew. After collapsing in the desert due to heat exhaustion, Simba is rescued by Timon the meerkat, and Pumbaa the warthog. Simba still feels down due to his father’s death, but the duo took the cub to their jungle home to show him their carefree way of living and a bug diet. Eventually, Simba grew to be a lion in the jungle with his friends Timon and Pumbaa beside him.
Meanwhile, at Pride Lands, Scar seizes power as king, and the Circle of Life is out of balance. The kingdom experiences darkness, drought, and famine. Nala, Simba’s childhood best friend, confronts Scar, but he is only concerned about himself. Nala fiercely rebukes him and decides to leave Pride Lands to find help.
Nala finds Simba, and they reunite. She convinces Simba to go back home and help the animals of the now ravaged Pride Lands. Simba hesitates at first, but the weight of responsibility has come to him, so he decides to take on a formidable enemy and fulfill his destiny to be king.
Characters and Cast
Here are the characters of The Lion King and the Broadway actors who play their parts:
- Young Simba (lion) – Haven Alexander and Jesus del Orden
- Adult Simba (lion) – Bradley Gibson
- Mufasa (lion) – L. Steven Taylor
- Scar (lion) – Stephen Carlile
- Young Nala (lioness) – Suri Marrero and Aliya “Jo” Ramey
- Adult Nala (lioness) – Adrienne Walker
- Rafiki (baboon) – TshidiManye
- Pumbaa (warthog) – Ben Jeffrey
- Timon (meerkat) – Fred Berman
- Zazu (hornbill) – Tony Freeman
- Ed (hyena) – Enrique Segura
- Banzai (hyena) – James Brown-Orleans
- Shenzi (hyena) – Bonita J. Hamilton
- Sarabi (lioness) – Deudre Lang
The Lion King musical features these songs:
- Circle of Life – Rafiki, Ensemble
- Grasslands Chant – Ensemble
- The Morning Report – Zazu, Young Simba, Mufasa, Ensemble
- The Lioness Hunt – Lionesses, Ensemble
- I Just Can’t Wait to be King – Young Simba, Young Nala, Zazu, Ensemble
- Chow Down – Shenzi, Banzai, Ed
- They Live in You – Mufasa, Ensemble
- Be Prepared – Scar, Shenzi, Banzai, Ed, Ensemble
- The Stampede – Orchestra
- Rafiki Mourns – Rafiki, Young Nala, Sarabi
- HakunaMatata – Timon, Pumbaa, Young Simba, Simba, Ensemble
- One by One – Ensemble
- The Madness of King Scar – Scar, Zazu, Banzai, Shenzi, Ed, Nala
- Shadowland – Nala, Rafiki, Lionesses, Ensemble
- Endless Night – Simba, Ensemble
- Can You Feel the Love Tonight? – Timon, Pumbaa, Simba, Nala, Ensemble
- He Lives in You – Rafiki, Simba, Ensemble
- Simba Confronts Scar – Orchestra
- King of Pride Rock/Circle of Life (Reprise) – Company