The Las Vegas premiere of Disney's award-winning Broadway phenomenon, The Lion King, began preview performances Monday, May 4 at Mandalay Bay Theatre. The sit-down production will join the seven other highly successful companies of The Lion King currently running all over the world, including New York, London, Hamburg, Paris, Tokyo and Fukuoka, as well as the North American National Tour.
Opening night for The Lion King at Mandalay Bay Theatre is Friday, May 15 at 7:30 p.m. The show is performed Monday through Thursday evenings at 8 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 4 p.m. During previews, there is no matinee Sunday, May 10 and no performance Tuesday, May 12. A limited number of seats may be available for same-day purchase; line starts forming one hour prior to curtain at the Mandalay Bay Theatre Box Office. Full performance schedule below.
For Las Vegas, Disney hand-selected an international cast of performers who have won acclaim in productions of The Lion King across the globe, including Broadway, Taipei, South Africa, London, Los Angeles, Australia, Toronto, Shanghai, Paris and Holland. The cast includes nine South African natives; and three ensemble members, Joseph Rivera, Renata Renee Wilson and Deon Ridley, from Las Vegas.
The sardonic and deviously cunning "Scar" is played by Thom Sesma. Alton F. White plays the role of the regal lion king "Mufasa." Buyi Zama - a native of South Africa - is the wise baboon shaman "Rafiki." The wisecracking and hyperactive meerkat "Timon" is played by Damian Baldet, Patrick Kerr portrays the prim and proper hornbilled bird "Zazu," and Adam Kozlowski plays the warm-hearted warthog "Pumbaa." Mufasa's son, "Simba," is played by Clifton Oliver. Kissy Simmons is the courageous and loyal lioness "Nala." The three hyenas are played by Keith Bennett ("Banzai"), Jacquie Hodges ("Shenzi") and Robbie Swift ("Ed"). Performances in the role of "Young Simba" are alternated between Duane Ervin and Elijah Johnson. And performances in the role of "Young Nala" are alternated between Ruby Crawford and Jade Nelson.
Now in its second sold-out decade on Broadway, The Lion King is the winner of six Tony® Awards including Best Musical, eight Drama Desk Awards, six Outer Critics Circle Awards, the New York Drama Critics award for Best Musical, the Evening Standard Award for the Theatrical Event of the Year, two Olivier Awards, a Theatre World Award, the Astaire Award for Outstanding Choreography, two Drama League Awards and a Grammy® Award for Best Musical Show Album.
Director Julie Taymor became the first woman in Broadway history to win the Tony® Award for Best Director of a Musical. Taymor, along with Michael Curry, created hundreds of masks and puppets for The Lion King. Choreography is by Garth Fagan, scenic design is by Richard Hudson, costume design is by Julie Taymor and lighting design is by Donald Holder. The book has been adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated film, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the screenplay for The Lion King. The score features Elton John and Tim Rice's music from the animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice, and additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer.
Tickets for Disney's The Lion King at Mandalay Bay are available for $53, $86 and $113.50. VIP packages, which include premium seating, a complimentary souvenir program and a complimentary VIP show merchandise item, are available for $168.50. Taxes are included in all prices. Tickets can be purchased at all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations (select Smith's Food and Drug Centers, Macy's West at the Fashion Show Mall and Ritmo Latino); via phone (with major credit card) through the box office at (702) 632-7580 or Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000; and online via www.mandalaybay.com or www.ticketmaster.com. Reservations for groups of 15 or more can be purchased through (877) 632-7505 or LionKingSales@mandalaybay.com.
Photos by Joan Marcus.