THE LION KING Will Welcome New 'Young Nala' and 'Young Simba' Next Week

The four actors join the company beginning Tuesday, December 5.

By: Nov. 28, 2023
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THE LION KING Will Welcome New 'Young Nala' and 'Young Simba' Next Week
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The Lion King will welcome Annika Franklin and Nia Thompson as “Young Nala” and Ezekiel Kekuna and Albert Rhodes Jr. as “Young Simba” beginning Tuesday, December 5. All four actors are making their Broadway debuts. Current cast members Donovan Louis BazemoreAva Hailey HarrisDavis Matthews and Jillian Page Platero will play their final performance Sunday, December 3.

ANNIKA FRANKLIN (Young Nala at certain performances) is thrilled to be making her Broadway debut! She would like to thank her family, teachers, A3 Artists Agency and Sherry Kayne for their love and support. She is also grateful to Disney, the casting team and the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando for believing in her. IG: @annika_reese.

EZEKIEL KEKUNA (Young Simba at certain performances) is thrilled to be making his Broadway debut as Young Simba! Born and raised in Hawaii, he began performing with I’m A Bright Kid and 24-7 Danceforce Studio. He would like to thank God, his family for their love and support, and especially Mom for being the best! 

ALBERT RHODES JR. (Young Simba at certain performances) (aka AJ) is delivering his professional debut as a 10-year-old Chicago native. Albert is an actor, dancer, singer and content creator who is following in the footsteps of his sister @kalandrarhodes who once played Young Nala in The Lion King North American tour! Albert mastered his craft at Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Chi CDT, Uniting Voices Chicago and a commercial for Target (United Way). Follow on IG and Facebook @Albertrhodesjr.

NIA THOMPSON (Young Nala at certain Performances). Making her Broadway debut in The Lion King, Nia is best known for singing Disney’s hit “Super Bonnet” in “Rise Up, Sing Out.” She’s enjoyed recurring roles in “Ada Twist Scientist” and “Godfather of Harlem” and can be seen next in “Sesame Street” and in HULU’s “Washington Black.” AuthenticNia.com, @AuthenticNia.

In The Lion King on Broadway: “Scar” is played by Stephen CarlileL. Steven Taylor is “Mufasa,” Tshidi Manye is the baboon shaman “Rafiki,” Nick LaMedica portrays the hornbilled bird “Zazu,” Ben Jeffrey is the warthog “Pumbaa” and Fred Berman is the meerkat “Timon.”  Mufasa’s son, “Simba,” the lion prince born to be king, is played by Vincent Jamal Hooper and Pearl Khwezi is the lioness “Nala.” James Brown-Orleans, Bonita J. Hamilton and Robb Sapp portray the hyenas “Bonzai,” “Shenzi” and “Ed.”




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