THE LION KING Plays The Academy of Music Through April 24

Casting has been announced for the Philadelphia engagement of Disney's THE LION KING. Philadelphia's most eagerly awaited return will once again leap onto the Academy of Music stage from Tuesday, March 23 to Saturday, April 24.

The press opening night is Thursday, March 25 at 7:30pm. The show entertained more than 240,000 people during its 14-week premiere engagement in 2006. This Philadelphia engagement is currently one of seven productions running worldwide along with New York, London, Hamburg, Tokyo, Paris, and Las Vegas.

Ticket prices start as low as $23. Additionally, Premium Ticket Packages, which include a prime seat location, a commemorative souvenir program and an exclusive merchandise item, are also available. Tickets may be purchased by calling 215-731-3333, online at www.kimmelcenter.org, at the Kimmel Center box office, Broad & Spruce streets. (open daily 10 am to 6 pm) or on performance days only at the Academy of Music box office. Groups of 20 or more will receive discounts for select performances by calling 215-790-5883.

Performance Schedule: Tuesday - Thursday evenings at 7:30pm; Friday & Saturday evenings at 8pm; Sunday evenings at 6:30pm; matinees Saturdays at 2pm, Sundays at 1pm and weekday matinees on Thursday, April 15 and Thursday, April 22 at 1pm.

The malevolent and evil "Scar" will be played by Brent Harris, who has been playing leading roles in many of the top regional theatres in the U.S., including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company (D.C.), Seattle Rep, Denver Center and many others. Dionne Randolph will play the lion king "Mufasa." Mr. Randolph's credits include Smokey Joe's Café, Little Shop of Horrors and Once on this Island. Phindile Mkhize, a native of South Africa, is the wise "Rafiki." Ms. Mkhize has traveled to Germany, Australia, Holland and Amsterdam performing and sharing her talents, and her credits include The Lion King Soundtrack '94, Sarafina 2; Mama, Maria, Maria, and WozaMyFohloza.

The meerkat "Timon" will be played by Tyler Murree, who has appeared in productions of Dirty Dancing, The Lord of the Rings: The Musical and Disney's Twice Charmed. Tony Freeman, who will portray "Zazu", has previously played the role on Broadway for over 1,300 performances. Mr. Freeman recently performed in Kander and Ebb's new musical All About Us and in Caroline, or Change in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Local Philadelphia area cast member, Ben Lipitz, a native of Cherry Hill, NJ begins his eighth consecutive season on tour as "Pumbaa," the warthog; Mr. Lipitz' stage credits include Red, Hot and Blue, Just So, ART, Dirty Blonde, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Marja Harmon, a graduate of the University of Southern California, is the lioness "Nala" and was recently seen on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and in the National Tour of Aida. Mufasa's son, "Simba," will be played by André Jackson, who is an alumnus of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and has numerous Broadway, film and television credits.

The three hyenas will be played by: Omari Tau ("Banzai"), a graduate of Michigan State University who has performed with the National Tour of The Lion King for the past five years; Andrea Jones ("Shenzi"), a graduate of Michigan State University who has performed with Jessica Simpson and Babyface; and Ben Roseberry ("Ed"), a graduate of Webster University whose stage credits include Rent, Emma, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and Max Understood.

Performances in the role of "Young Simba" will be alternated between Elijah Johnson and Jerome Stephens, Jr. MR. Johnson is a 10 year-old who has performed in concerts across the U.S. and has appeared in several television commercials. Mr. Stephens was recently seen in The Lion King on Broadway and in the feature film Away We Go. Performances in the role of "Young Nala" will be alternated between Jamariana Tribble and Madai Monica Williams. Ms. Tribble, a native of Van Nuys, CA, is making her professional debut in The Lion King. MS. Williams is a nine year-old from Springfield, MA and is also making her professional debut in The Lion King.

THE LION KING continues to reign as one of the most popular shows on Broadway and around the world. Now in its 13th year, THE LION KING is the eighth longest-running musical in Broadway history and the first American musical to welcome 50 million guests worldwide. The global phenomenon is the winner of more than 70 major awards worldwide, including the 1998 Tony Award and NY Drama Critics Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy for Best Musical Show Album, and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design.

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, additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer.

The Broadway Season is presented by the Kimmel Center in association with The Shubert Organization and is sponsored by Citibank with support provided by American Airlines.

In addition to Disney's THE LION KING, 2009-2010 Broadway Season productions at the Academy of Music, Forrest Theatre and Merriam Theatre will include: The Groovaloos (March 9 - 14) at the Merriam Theater; August:Osage County (April 27 - May 2) at the Forrest Theatre; Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance (May 14 - 16) at the Merriam Theater; Avenue Q (June 18 - 20); and Dreamgirls (June 21 - 27) both at the Academy of Music.




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