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The Lion King
The Lion King Musical.svg
Poster from the Broadway Production
Music Elton John
Lyrics Tim Rice
Book Roger Allers
Irene Mecchi
Basis Disney animated film
The Lion King
Productions 1997 Minneapolis Tryout
1997 Broadway
1998 Tokyo
1999 London
1999 Toronto
2000 Los Angeles
2001 Germany
2002 U.S. National Tour
2003 Sydney
2004 The Netherlands
2005 Melbourne
2006 Seoul
2007 Paris
2007 Johannesburg
2008 Mexico City
2008 Taipei
2009 Las Vegas
2010 Madrid
2010 Singapore
Awards 1998 Tony Award for Best Musical

The Lion King is a musical based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice along with the musical score created by Hans Zimmer with choral arrangements by Lebo M. Directed by Julie Taymor, the musical features actors in animal costumes as well as giant, hollow puppets. The show is produced by Disney Theatrical.

The musical debuted July 8, 1997, in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Orpheum Theatre, and was an instant success before premiering on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater on October 15, 1997 in previews with the official opening on November 13, 1997. On June 13, 2006, the Broadway production moved to the Minskoff Theatre to make way for the musical version of Mary Poppins, where it is still running.[1] It is now Broadway's ninth longest-running show in history.

The show debuted in the West End's Lyceum Theatre on October 19, 1999 and is still running. The cast of the West End production were invited to perform at the Royal Variety Performance 2008 at the London Palladium on December 11, in the presence of senior members of the British Royal Family.[2]


U.S. and international productions

Hamburg, Germany: Lion King Theatre

After the success of the Broadway show, the show was produced in the United Kingdom in 1999 by Harrison Lochtenberg, and continues to play at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Taymor led the British production of the show, with Melissa De Melo as the producer. The London Production recently celebrated its 10th anniversary in the West End.

A Canadian production of the show was staged in Toronto and ran for nearly four years at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The show ran from 1999 - 2004.

A Los Angeles production began performances at the Pantages Theatre on September 29, 2000 with an official opening on October 19, 2000. The show closed on January 12, 2003 after 952 performances.

The show played at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney, Australia, from October 16, 2003, until June 26, 2005. The production then ran at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne from July 28, 2005 until June 4, 2006.

The musical had a Korean production from October 28, 2006 to October 28, 2007 at the Charlotte Theater, southern Seoul.

The Dutch production in 2004 was made at the Circus Theater until August 27, 2006, taking place for Tarzan.

Beginning in June 2007, The Lion King Musical debuted its first ever performance on the African continent in Johannesburg, South Africa. Its tenth year anniversary was celebrated in the new Teatro Theatre at Monte Casino in Fourways. The Lion King is the first production to take place in the new theatre. The opening night in Johannesburg, was celebrated with key persons involving the creation of the Lion King Musical, and American talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who had recently opened an educational academy for girls in Johannesburg[3] The show closed on February 17, 2008.

The Lion King Musical debuted in Paris on September 22, 2007 in the Théâtre Mogador.

There is currently one U.S. touring production. (At one time there were 2 US touring productions travelling simultaneously). The tour version is very similar to the original Broadway production; however, certain scenic elements which rise out of the stage floor (such as Pride Rock, the stampede, and the grasslands) were converted to less costly configurations for the touring productions. The sun during the opening is reduced in size for the shorter-lasting tours. Stage sizes are also smaller, and the volume (loudness or amount of?) of music as well as the number of instruments, is decreased.

In August 2008, a production opened in Taipei, Taiwan, closing in August 24, 2009.

The musical had a Mexican production (in English) between January 3 and January 27, 2008 in Mexico City.[4]

A Las Vegas production opened at Mandalay Bay on May 15, 2009 with previews beginning May 5, 2009.[5]

In 2010 the first Spanish production will open at Teatro Lope de Vega in Madrid, produced by Stage Entertainment.[6]

The Lion King, is coming to the Marina Bay Sands Theatre. Base Entertainment and Marina Bay Sands are bringing the Disney Theatrical Group production to Singapore in September 2010[7]. The South-east Asian premiere in Singapore will be a duplicate of the other shows performing in other parts of the world, such as London and New York. It will feature a new company of performers auditioned around the world.



Act I

Actress Buyi Zama as Rafiki in Taiwan.

As the sun rises, Rafiki the baboon calls the animals to Pride Rock. She greets King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi before presenting their cub to the gathered animals ("Circle of Life"). Elsewhere, Mufasa's brother, Scar, laments on his lost chance at becoming king. Back at her baobab tree, Rafiki asks the spirits to conjure the new prince's name: Simba.

Time passes and Simba grows into a lively young cub ("Grasslands Chant"). Mufasa shows Simba the Pride Lands from the top of Pride Rock and explains that everything exists in a delicate balance known as the Circle of Life. Mufasa warns Simba not to stray beyond the boundaries of the Pride Lands, pointing out a shadowy area in the distance. Zazu, a hornbill who acts as Mufasa's advisor, arrives and delivers his daily report on the state of affairs in the King's domain. ("The Morning Report")

Simba goes to see his uncle Scar. The scheming lion piques the cub's curiosity by mentioning the elephant graveyard, a place where Simba is forbidden to go.

The lionesses go out hunting ("The Lioness Hunt"), and Simba arrives and asks his best friend, a female cub named Nala to come with him to the elephant graveyard, although he does not mention their intended location to his mother- he lies that they intend to go to the water-hole. Sarafina (Nala's mother) and Sarabi allow the cubs to go when Zazu accompanies them. Simba and Nala formulate a plan and manage to lose Zazu, while Simba brags about his future position, ("I Just Can't Wait to Be King").

The cubs journey to the graveyard and begin to explore until Zazu stops them. They are about to leave when they are confronted by the three hyenas Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. The Hyenas intend to have all three of the unfortunates for lunch, and gloat over them eagerly, ("Chow Down"). Mufasa arrives to rescue the cubs and frightens off the hyenas.

Mufasa is disappointed and angry that Simba disobeyed him. Simba says that he was only trying to be brave like his father. Mufasa explains that bravery does not mean recklessly seeking out danger. Simba asks whether he and his father will always be together, causing Mufasa to look up to the night sky and tell Simba about the great kings of the past and how they guide and watch over everything ("They Live in You"). Mufasa says that he will always be there for his son.

Back at the elephant graveyard, Scar tells the hyenas that he will soon be king if the hyenas assist him, and that they will never be hungry again if they agree ("Be Prepared").

Scar takes Simba to a gorge and tells him to wait there. Scar leaves and signals the hyenas, who start a wildebeest stampede down into the gorge ("The Stampede"). Scar tells Mufasa that Simba is trapped in the gorge, and Mufasa races to his son's aid. Mufasa leaps into the stampede and manages to save his son, but as he climbs a cliff, Scar betrays him and throws him down from the cliff, killing him. Scar convinces Simba that his father's death was his fault, as Mufasa died trying to save him, and that he should flee the Pride Lands. As Simba runs, Scar orders the hyenas to chase and kill Simba. The hyenas obey, but when Simba gets too far, they decide to leave him and make Scar believe that Simba is dead. Back at Pride Rock, Scar announces that Mufasa and Simba are both dead, and the lionesses and Rafiki mourn ("Rafiki Mourns"). Scar climbs to the promontory of Pride Rock, claims the throne for himself, and allows the hyenas into the Pride Lands as his executive staff ("Be Prepared (Reprise)"). Rafiki returns to her tree and smears the drawing of Simba, while Sarabi and Nala mourn for the ones whom they have loved and lost.

Out in the desert, Simba collapses from heat exhaustion. Vultures begin to circle, but are scared away by Timon, the meerkat, and Pumbaa, the warthog. The duo take the cub back to their jungle home and show him their relaxed way of life ("Hakuna Matata"). They tell Simba that they are outcasts as well and later introduce him to their diet of bugs and insects. Simba is captivated by the carefree existence, and stays in the jungle with his new friends for a long time.

Act II

The chorus, dressed in colorful clothes with ornate bird puppets and kites, begin the Second Act ("One by One"). As the song ends, however, the beautiful birds are replaced by vultures and gazelle skeletons. A drought has hit the Pride Lands under Scar's tyrannical rule.

Zazu, now a prisoner of Scar, listens to the king's woes. First, Scar has delusions of Mufasa's ghost haunting in every shadow. Then, he laments that he is not loved and arrives on the idea of finding a queen and having cubs. Nala arrives to inform Scar that there is no food and no water, just as the hyenas reported the same thing a few minutes ago; Scar attempts to flirt with her. Nala escapes ("The Madness of King Scar"). Utterly frustrated and upset by current events, Nala decides to leave the Pride Lands and find help, vowing that she will never forget her pride. The lionesses and Rafiki offer a blessing ("Shadowland").

Back in the jungle, Simba leads Timon and Pumbaa to find a resting place. Timon and Pumbaa want to sleep, but the restless Simba is unable to sleep. Annoyed by Timon and Pumbaa, Simba disappears into the night. Timon and Pumbaa lose their courage and follow Simba through the dark jungle. Simba leaps across a fast-moving river and challenges Timon to do the same. Timon falls into the water and is swept downstream by the current until he reaches a waterfall, where he grabs onto a branch. Simba wants to save Timon but is sent into a flashback of Mufasa's death. Timon falls from the branch and Simba snaps out of the flashback, rescuing his friend. Simba is ashamed that Timon nearly died because of his recklessness.

That night the three friends look up at the stars, wondering what they are. Simba recalls Mufasa's words regarding the great kings of the past, but Timon and Pumbaa dismiss it and laugh at the notion. Simba leaves, looking up at the sky and bitterly remembering his father's promise that he would always be there for Simba ("Endless Night"). At Rafiki's Tree, Rafiki hears Simba's song on the wind and comes to the joyous conclusion that Simba is alive. She draws a mane onto the drawing of Simba on her tree.

In the jungle, Pumbaa is being hunted and chased by a lioness. Simba confronts the lioness and saves his friend. The lioness flips Simba, causing Simba to recognize that the lioness is his childhood friend Nala. Nala is amazed to find Simba alive, knowing that he is the rightful king. Timon and Pumbaa are confused by this, and Simba tells the two to leave so that he and Nala can be alone. Timon realizes what is happening and laments that he and Pumbaa's Hakuna Matata lifestyle has come to an end ("Can You Feel the Love Tonight"). Nala tells Simba about the state of the devastated Pride Lands, trying to encourage him to return and take his rightful place as king. Simba is still guilty about his father's death and leaves.

On his own, Simba meets Rafiki, who explains that his father is still alive ("He Lives in You (Reprise)"). As Simba looks toward the sky, his father appears as a heavenly vision. Mufasa reminds Simba that he is the rightful king and must return home. Simba is persuaded and heads for Pride Rock.

Meanwhile, Nala wakes Timon and Pumbaa to ask where Simba is. Rafiki appears and tells them that he has returned to Pride Rock.

Simba returns to Pride Rock with Nala, Timon and Pumbaa, where he witnesses the ruin that his home has fallen into. Timon and Pumbaa lure some hyenas out of their path by providing a diversion. Timon dresses in drag and does the Charleston. Simba tells Nala to go find his mother while he goes look for Scar.

Scar calls for Sarabi and demands to know why the lionesses are not hunting. Sarabi tells him that there is no food or water and that they need to leave Pride Rock to survive. Scar refuses and when Sarabi snaps at him about not being half the king Mufasa was, Scar strikes his sister-in-law saying that he was ten times the king Mufasa was. At this, an enraged Simba leaps down, startling Scar, who believes his nephew to be dead. Scar forces a confession of murder from Simba and attacks him, forcing him over the edge of Pride Rock. Believing that he has won, Scar whispers to Simba that he was the one who killed Mufasa. Simba, infuriated, leaps up and grabs Scar by the throat, causing Scar to reveal the truth. A fierce battle rages between the lionesses, Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki and the hyenas ("Simba Confronts Scar").

Simba corners Scar on the top of Pride Rock, where Scar begs for his life and blames everything on the hyenas. In a repetition of Scar's words to cub Simba, Simba tells Scar to run away and never return. Scar, with the thought of Simba killing him, appears to follow this request, but turns quickly and attacks Simba again. Simba is able to block the attack, making Scar trip and fall over the cliff where the hyenas are waiting below. They surround their former leader and kill him.

The battle having finally ended, Simba's friends come forward and acknowledge Simba as the new and rightful king. Simba climbs to the top of Pride Rock and roars out across the kingdom. The animals gather at the call of their new king and celebrate ("King of Pride Rock"). Rafiki, Nala and Simba ascend Pride Rock where Rafiki lifts Simba and Nala's newborn cub high into the air, thus continuing the Circle of Life and ushering in a new golden age ("Circle of Life (Reprise)").


Act I
Song Written by Performed by Sample
Circle of Life Elton John and Tim Rice Rafiki and Ensemble
Grasslands Chant Lebo M Ensemble
The Morning Report Elton John and Tim Rice Zazu, Young Simba and Mufasa
The Lioness Hunt Lebo M Ensemble
I Just Can't Wait to Be King Elton John and Tim Rice Young Simba, Young Nala, Zazu and Ensemble
Chow Down Elton John and Tim Rice Shenzi, Banzai and Ed
They Live in You Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin and Lebo M Mufasa and Ensemble
Be Prepared Elton John and Tim Rice Scar, Shenzi, Banzai, Ed and Ensemble
The Stampede/Rafiki Mourns Hans Zimmer and Lebo M Ensemble and Rafiki, Ensemble
Hakuna Matata Elton John and Tim Rice Timon, Pumbaa, Young Simba, Simba and Ensemble
Act II
Song Written by Performed by Sample
One by One Lebo M Ensemble
The Madness of King Scar Elton John and Tim Rice Scar, Zazu, Banzai, Shenzi, Ed and Nala
Shadowland Hans Zimmer, Lebo M, and Mark Mancina Nala, Rafiki and Ensemble About this sound sample
Endless Night Julie Taymor, Lebo M, Hans Zimmer and Jay Rifkin Simba and Ensemble
Can You Feel the Love Tonight Elton John and Tim Rice Timon, Pumbaa, Simba, Nala and Ensemble
He Lives in You (Reprise) Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin and Lebo M Rafiki, Simba and Ensemble About this sound sample
Simba Confronts Scar Mark Mancina and Robert Elhai Instrumental
King of Pride Rock/Circle of Life (Reprise) Hans Zimmer and Lebo M/Elton John and Tim Rice Rafiki, Simba, Nala, Pumbaa, Timon, Zazu and Ensemble

Musical adaptation

The musical incorporates several changes and additions to the storyline as compared to the film. The mandrill Rafiki's gender was changed to a female role because Taymor believed that there was generally no leading female character in the film[8]. Rafiki was portrayed by Tsidii Le Loka in the original Broadway musical, and by Josette Bushell-Mingo in the original London production.

The Lion King on Broadway. showing originally at the New Amsterdam Theater (shown), it is now showing at the Minskoff.

Several new scenes are present, including a conversation between Mufasa and Zazu about Mufasa's parenting and a perilous scene in which Timon finds himself nearly drowning in a waterfall while Simba feels powerless to help him. A major narrative addition is the depiction of Nala's departure in the scene "The Madness of King Scar," where the mentally deteriorating villain tries to make Nala his mate. Nala refuses and later announces her intention to depart the Pride Lands and find help. She receives the blessings of the lionesses and Rafiki during the new song "Shadowland."

The Lion King in the West End

Like its predecessor, the Beauty and the Beast musical, the show adds more songs to its stage production, including Morning Report, sung by Zazu the hornbill and later added to the film for the Platinum Edition DVD release. "Shadowland," originally featured on the CD Rhythm of the Pride Lands with Swahili lyrics as "Lea Halelela", was adapted for the musical with new English lyrics. It is sung by Nala, the lionesses, and Rafiki. "Endless Night", also from Rhythm of the Pride Lands with Swahili lyrics as "Lala" is sung by Simba while reflecting on Mufasa's promise to always be there. "One By One" from the Rhythm of the Pride Lands CD was adapted as the rousing African-styled Entre Act sung by the chorus at the opening of the second act.

Many of the animals portrayed in the production are actors in costume using extra tools to move their costumes. For example, the giraffes are portrayed by actors carefully walking on stilts. For principal characters such as Mufasa and Scar, the costumes feature mechanical headpieces that can be raised and lowered to foster the illusion of a cat "lunging" at another. Other characters, such as the hyenas, Zazu, Timon, and Pumbaa, are portrayed by actors in life-sized puppets or costumes. The Timon character is described by Taymor as one of the hardest roles to master because the movement of the puppet's head and arms puts a strain on the actor's arms, back, and neck.[9]

Composer Lebo M led the original Broadway chorus.[9] The chorus members are usually visible in the production, rather than being hidden in the shadows as seen in some other musical shows.

A new section of the production, the Lioness Hunt, features a particularly complicated dance sequence for the actresses, and the dance is made even more difficult by the large headpieces worn during the scene.

During the show's run in China, Chinese elements were included in the musical. One of the songs was adapted to a well-known Chinese pop song, "Laoshu ai dami" or "Mice Love Rice". The cast even cracked jokes and attempted conversations with the audience in Chinese.[10]

Original Broadway cast

Actor Role
Jason Raize Simba
Scott Irby-Ranniar Young Simba
John Vickery Scar
Samuel E. Wright Mufasa
Heather Headley Nala
Kajuana Shuford Young Nala
Tsidii Le Loka Rafiki
Max Casella Timon
Tom Alan Robbins Pumbaa
Geoff Hoyle Zazu
Gina Breedlove Sarabi
Tracy Nicole Chapman Shenzi
Stanley Wayne Mathis Banzai
Kevin Cahoon Ed

Original West End cast

Actor Role
Roger Wright Simba
Luke Youngblood Young Simba
Rob Edwards Scar
Cornell John Mufasa
Paulette Ivory Nala
Pippa Bennett-Warner/Nathalie Emmanuel/Dominique Moore Young Nala
Josette Bushell-Mingo Rafiki
Simon Gregor Timon
Martyn Ellis Pumbaa
Gregory Gudgeon Zazu
Dawn Michael Sarabi
Stephanie Charles Shenzi
Paul J. Medford Banzai
Christopher Holt Ed


Original Broadway cast recording

Various international cast recordings are available on CD, including:[11]

  • 1997 Broadway Cast
  • 1999 Japanese Cast
  • 2002 Hamburg Cast
  • 2004 Netherlands Cast
  • 2007 French Cast
  • 2007 South African Cast (Live performance audio CD)

Note: A recording, entitled "The Lion King" by the London Theatre Orchestra and Singers, was released on November 14, 2000 (D-3 Entertainment, ASIN: B00004ZDR6). This is not the London original cast recording.[12]


Tony Awards

Award Won Nominee(s)
Best Musical Yes Disney Theatrical Productions
Best Scenic Design for a Musical Yes Richard Hudson
Best Costume Design for a Musical Yes Julie Taymor and Michael Curry
Best Lighting Design of a Musical Yes Donald Holder
Best Choreography Yes Garth Fagan
Best Direction of a Musical Yes Julie Taymor
Best Book of a Musical No Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi
Best Original Score No Elton John (music), Tim Rice (lyrics), Hans Zimmer (music), Lebo M (music & lyrics), Mark Mancina (music & lyrics), Jay Rifkin (music & lyrics), Julie Taymor (lyrics)
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical No Samuel E. Wright
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical No Tsidii Le Loka
Best Orchestrations No Robert Elhai, David Metzger, Bruce Fowler

1998 Drama Desk Awards

  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Musical — Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (nominees)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical — Max Casella, Geoff Hoyle (nominees)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical — Tsidii Le Loka (WINNER)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography — Garth Fagan (WINNER)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Direction of a Musical — Julie Taymor (WINNER)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestrations — Robert Elhai, David Metzger, and Bruce Fowler (nominees)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design of a Musical — Scenic Design by Richard Hudson (WINNER)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design — Costume Design by Julie Taymor (WINNER)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design — Lighting Design by Donald Holder (WINNER)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Sound Design — Sound Design by Tony Meola (WINNER)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Puppet Design — Puppet Design by Julie Taymor, Michael Curry (WINNER)

1998 Theatre World Award

  • Max Casella (WINNER)

2008 Molière Award for "Le Roi Lion"

  • Molière du costume - Costume Design by Julie Taymor (WINNER)
  • Molière du créateur lumière - Lighting Design by Donald Holder (WINNER)
  • Molière du spectacle musical (WINNER)


External links


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