The Lion King opens at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Disney’s The Lion King opened last night in the show’s first appearance at the Walt Disney Theater at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for a spectacular four-week engagement that runs through March 11.

Since its Broadway premiere on 13th November 1997, The Lion King is still one of the most popular stage musicals in the world and its not hard to see why given the superb performance enjoyed by the Orlando audience last night. Further testament is that more than 90 million people covering 24 global productions have seen the show produced by Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher.

Now in its 20th year, The Lion King is the only show in history to generate six productions worldwide running 15 or more years and has been performed in eight different languages (Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and Portuguese) over 100 cities in 19 countries on every continent except Antarctica. The show has won six 1998 Tony Awards®:  Best Musical, Best Scenic Design (Richard Hudson), Best Costume Design (Julie Taymor), Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Best Choreography (Garth Fagan) and Best Direction of a Musical.  It has also earned more than 70 major arts awards including the 1998 NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy® for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Event of the Year and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design. Just for good measure The Lion King’s worldwide gross revenue exceeds that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history.


The show is a party for the senses featuring Elton John and Tim Rice’s music from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice; additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer; and music from “Rhythm of the Pride Lands,” an album inspired by the original music in the film, written by Lebo M, Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer.  The resulting sound is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, ranging from the Academy Award®-winning song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” to the haunting ballad “Shadowland.”

The show’s director, costume designer and mask co-designer Julie Taymor continues to play an integral part in the show’s ongoing success.  The first woman to win a Tony Award for Direction of a Musical, Taymor has in recent years supervised new productions of the show around the world.


The book has been adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed The Lion King animated feature, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay.  Other members of the creative team include:  Michael Curry, who designed the masks and puppets with Taymor, Steve Canyon Kennedy (sound design), Michael Ward (hair and makeup design), John Stefaniuk (associate director), Marey Griffith (associate choreographer), Clement Ishmael (music supervisor) and Doc Zorthian (production supervisor). Anne Quart serves as co-producer.

The production features Mark Campbell as “Scar,” Gerald Ramsey as “Mufasa,” Buyi Zama as “Rafiki,” Nick Cordileone as “Timon,” Greg Jackson as “Zazu,” Kimber Spawl as “Sarabi”, Ben Lipitz as “Pumbaa,” Gerald Caesar as “Simba,” Nia Holloway as “Nala,” Keith Bennett as “Banzai,” Martina Sykes as “Shenzi” and Robbie Swift as “Ed” and there really is no weak link as the cast produces a superb performance throughout.

The role of “Young Simba” is alternated between Joziyah Jean-Felix and Ramon Reed and the role of “Young Nala” is alternated between Danielle W. Jalade and Gloria Manning.

Particular highlights are Taymor’s puppets and costumes together with their movable masks, a fantastic and mesmerizing scenic design set with who knows how many set changes overseen by Richard Hudson and a steely determination by the producers to use the entire theater and not just the stage to wow the entire audience no matter what age.

Tickets start at $35.25 and may be purchased online at, by calling 844.513.2014 or by visiting the Dr. Phillips Center Box Office at 445 S. Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday. Online and phone ticket purchases are subject to handling fees.




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