Sesma, White & Williams Lead THE LION KING at Vegas' Mandalay Bay, Previews Start 5/5

Casting has been announced for the Las Vegas production of Disney's THE LION KING. The eagerly awaited sit-down production will leap onto the Mandalay Bay Theatre stage with preview performances May 5, and celebrate its official opening May 15. It 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. Tickets will go on sale to the public March 14.

For the Las Vegas production, Disney hand-selected an international cast of performers who have won acclaim in productions of THE LION KING around the world, including New York, 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 group assembled in Las Vegas on Monday, March 9 to rehearse together for the first time.

The malevolent and evil "Scar" will be played by Thom Sesma, whose credits include The Times They Are A-Changin' , The Man of La Mancha, La Cage Aux Folles on Broadway and Thomas Andrew in Titanic, the national tour. Alton F. White will play the lion king "Mufasa." Mr. White's credits include THE LION KING's Broadway company and national tour, as well as Ragtime, Tommy, The Color Purple and Miss Saigon on Broadway. Marvette Williams, a Los Angeles native, will play "Sarabi." Her credits include the acclaimed musicals Hair and Tommy along with vocals in the film Tears of the Sun. Buyi Zama, a native of South Africa, will be the wise "Rafiki." Ms. Zama has performed in seven productions of THE LION KING, including London, Sydney, Melbourne, Shanghai, South Africa, Taipei and the national tour; her credits also include backing as a vocalist for artists such as Whitney Houston and Rebecca Malope.

Kissy Simmons, a native of Floral City, FL, will be the lioness, "Nala." She joins the Las Vegas cast from the Broadway production of THE LION KING and previously performed in the national tour. Mufasa's son, "Simba," will be played by Clifton Oliver, who is an alumnus of Douglas Anderson School of Arts and has numerous theatre credits including featured roles in THE LION KING's Los Angeles production and national tour, in addition to Grease, Rent and Wicked on Broadway.

The meerkat "Timon" will be played by Damian Baldet, who has appeared in THE LION KING's national tour in addition to productions of Frankenstein, Attempts on Her Life, The Rats Are Getting Bigger and Gone Missing. Patrick Kerr, who will portray "Zazu," and appeared as KACL's Noel on "Frasier" and recently performed in The Ritz on Broadway. Adam Kozlowski will portray "Pumbaa" the warthog and has appeared in Scrooge the musical on national tour.

The three hyenas will be played by Keith Bennett ("Banzai"), an original cast member of THE LION KING, whose additional credits include the Broadway productions of Oh, Kay! and The High Rollers Social and Pleasure Club; Jacquie Hodges ("Shenzi"), who has performed off Broadway in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide and in the national tours of THE LION KING and Aida; and Robbie Swift ("Ed"), acting graduate from The Theatre School at DePaul University, who toured nationally with THE LION KING and recently played "Linus" in the West Coast premiere of Snoopy.

Performances in the role of "Young Simba" will be alternated between Duane Ervin and Elijah Johnson. The role of "Young Nala" will be alternated between Ruby Crawford and Jade Nelson.

Currently in its 12th smash year on Broadway and seen by more than 45 million people in 11 countries, Disney's THE LION KING continues to reign as one of the most popular shows around the world. 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. The resulting sound of THE LION KING score is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, embracing the Academy Award®-winning "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" and the haunting "Shadowlands."

Tickets for Disney's THE LION KING in Las Vegas will go on sale to the public Saturday, March 14 during a special on-sale event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center box office from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.; purchasing guests will receive commemorative gifts during the event, while supplies last. Tickets will be available starting as low as $53, continuing up to $86 and $113.50. VIP packages, which include premium seating, a complimentary souvenir program and a complimentary VIP show merchandise item, will be available for $168.50. Tax and service fees are included in all prices.

All other outlets, phone and online sales will launch at 10 a.m., including 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 now through (877) 632-7505 or LionKingSales@mandalaybay.com.

PREVIEW PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

May 5, 6, 7, 8: 8 p.m.
May 9: 4 p.m. & 8 p.m.
May 10, 11: 8 p.m.

May 12: Dark
May 13, 14: 8 p.m.

Official opening: May 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Post-opening schedule

Monday through Thursday: 8 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

No performances on Fridays

MANDALAY BAY RESORT & CASINO is a AAA Four Diamond Award-winning destination resort set on 60 lush acres and offers 3,635 newly remodeled rooms and suites, including 424 accommodations managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Mandalay Bay Beach, an 11-acre tropical pool environment, features real California sand, a wave pool and the only climate-controlled poolside gaming in the city. The property also features the 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay Events Center, award-winning restaurants, Shark Reef Aquarium and the 1.5-million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center - the largest convention center on the Las Vegas Strip. Mandalay Bay's brands include THEhotel, an all-suite hotel featuring 1,117 luxurious one-bedroom suites, the BATHHOUSE Spa, and Mandalay Place, a collection of unique boutiques and restaurants. Mandalay Bay is a wholly owned subsidiary of MGM MIRAGETM (NYSE: MGM). For more information and reservations, visit the Web site at www.mandalaybay.com, or call toll free at (877) 632-7000.

DISNEY THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS (DTP), a division of Disney Theatrical Group, operates under the direction of Thomas Schumacher and is among the world's most successful commercial theatre enterprises. Reaching a global annual audience of more than 10 million people in over 40 countries, DTP produces and licenses Broadway musicals around the world including Grammy®, Tony® and Olivier-award winning The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Elton John & Tim Rice's Aida, TARZAN ® and Mary Poppins, a co-production by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh which is about to launch its national touring engagement. Its most recent Broadway production, The Little Mermaid, debuted in 2007 and immediately became a Broadway sensation. That same year, DTP launched the professional touring stage version of Disney's High School Musical. In addition, DTP licenses musical titles for local schools and community productions through Music Theatre International and on its recently launched website, DisneyMusicals.com.

Disney Theatrical Group also delivers live entertainment around the world through its partnership with Feld Entertainment, producer of Disney on Ice and Disney LIVE!, including High School Musical: The Ice Tour and Playhouse Disney Live!

 

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