There is honestly only one word to describe The Lion King: AMAZING. I had the privilege of recently viewing the phenomenal Broadway production at the Mahalia Jackson Theater and I must say it was an experience. I never though there would be a production I loved more than The Color Purple until The Lion King. A great job was done of bringing The Lion King to life for all the lovers of the wonderful story in the audience. The costumes were beautiful and the movements of each animal just was beyond words for me. The singing and just the experience came alive and told a story that all ages could enjoy together. The Lion King mixed with New Orleans culture was a gumbo surprise match made in heaven, leaving audiences every night in awe during their 5 week-long run in the city.
Disney’s THE LION KING is already celebrating a record-breaking engagement at The Mahalia Jackson Theater. By the time the triumphant, five-week Louisiana première engagement concludes on Sunday, April 15, it will have entertained nearly 85,000 people and grossed over $6.5 million at the box office, making it the highest-grossing theatrical production in New Orleans history. It is estimated that by the conclusion, THE LION KING will generate a $22 million economic benefit to the city from travel, hotels, restaurants, parking and other businesses patronized by both theater goers and production staff.
THE LION KING began as a 1994 animated feature-length film developed and produced by the Walt Disney Company. The story, a coming of age parable set among animals indigenous to its setting, the African savanna, tells the tale of Simba, the lion cub who rises to be the King of the jungle.
The sardonic and deviously cunning “Scar” is played by J. Anthony Crane. Dionne Randolph is “Mufasa,” the great warrior and ruler of the Pridelands. Buyi Zama is the wise baboon shaman “Rafiki.” Mark David Kaplan portrays the prim and proper hornbilled bird “Zazu.” Adam Kozlowski is the carefree warthog “Pumbaa” and Nick Cordileone is the wisecracking meerkat “Timon.” Mufasa’s son, “Simba,” the lion prince born to be king, is played by Jelani Remy and Syndee Winters is the loyal lioness “Nala.”
The three evil hyenas are played by Keith Bennett (“Banzai”), Rashada Dawan (“Shenzi”) and Robbie Swift (“Ed”). The role of “Young Simba” is alternated between Zavion J. Hilland Adante Power and the role of “Young Nala” is alternated between Sade Phillip-Demorcy and Kailah McFadden.
The talented cast of more than 40 actors includes several local connections. Maurica Roland (Ensemble/Understudy Nala, Shenzi & Sarabi) is a Pensacola, FL native and graduate of the Louisiana State University music education program. Additionally, Amyia Burrell (ensemble) graduated from Sam Houston High School in Lake Charles, and this will be the first time she performs professionally in New Orleans.
If you haven’t seen this great show, you have until Sunday to hopefully get out there and experience Lion King.
The Mahalia Jackson Theater is located in Armstrong Park at 801 N. Rampart Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. Information on the Broadway Across America – New Orleans series and venue policies and accommodations may be obtained online at www.mahaliajacksontheater.com. Group Sales information is available at 504-287-0372. Box Office information is available at504-287-0351.