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New Cast Announced for Disney’s The Lion King UK & Ireland Tour

The UK & Ireland Tour of Disney’s award-winning musical, THE LION KING, will welcome new cast members including Aphiwe Nyezi as ‘Simba’, Brian Gilligan as ‘Scar’ and Andre Jewson as ‘Zazu’, beginning on Tuesday 5 September 2023.

Andrew Jewson as Zazu - International Tour - Photo by Matthew Murphy. ©Disney.
Andrew Jewson as Zazu – International Tour – Photo by Matthew Murphy. ©Disney.

The newcomers join a talented international company who represent 17 countries around the world whilst the show plays its season in Birmingham, before moving on to Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

Aphiwe Nyezi was born in Cape Town, South Africa and is currently a member of THE LION KING company in London’s West End. Brian Gilligan, from Dublin, Ireland, is currently covering the role of ‘Scar’ in UK & Ireland Tour cast and has featured in numerous stage productions including Romeo & Juliet at Mill Theatre Dublin and Jimmy’s Hall at Abbey Theatre Dublin. Australia’s Andre Jewson has played ‘Zazu’ across the globe in the International Tour and Australian Tour of THE LION KING.

They are joined by existing principal cast members Thandazile Soni as ‘Rafiki’, Jean-Luc Guizonne as ‘Mufasa’, Janique Charles as ‘Nala’ (until 16 Sep), Nokwanda Khuzwayo as ‘Nala’ (from 28 Sep), Alan McHale as ‘Timon’ and Carl Sanderson as ‘Pumba’.

Also joining the cast are Aleasha Grace, Francessca Daniella-Baker, Phumelele Jili, Joshua Lloyd, Abon Saliljan, Keorapetse Sebokolodi and Karlene Wray.

THE LION KING is currently playing a limited season at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 16 September with some good seats still remaining for midweek performances in August and September. The production will then return to Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from Thursday 28 September – Saturday 11 November 2023 where it completes its UK and Ireland Tour.

The story of THE LION KING leaps into life using spectacular masks, puppets and costumes to tell the story of Simba’s epic adventures, as he struggles with the responsibilities of adulthood and becoming king.

Julie Taymor’s internationally celebrated stage adaptation of THE LION KING opened on Broadway in 1997 and 25 global productions in nine different languages have been created since then (English, Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and Portuguese). THE LION KING is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, under the direction of Thomas Schumacher.

Since the UK premiere in 1999, THE LION KING London has entertained more than 18 million theatregoers and is the sixth longest-running West End musical of all time.

The stunning artistry of the production is the work of a team of designers which drew on diverse cultural influences to recreate the rich colours and vast expanses of the African savanna in this daring and inspiring reinvention of one of the most successful animated feature films of all time.

Julie Taymor, one of the world’s most innovative directors, brought a vast array of disciplines to THE LION KING, including extensive experience staging epic theatre and opera productions, exploring classic myths through ritualised puppetry, mask, and movement. The Lion King was the first musical Taymor directed in the commercial theatre and she made Broadway history by becoming the first woman to win the Tony Award® for Best Director of a Musical.

The Broadway show’s full creative team, which won five Tony Awards® for its work on THE LION KING, reunited in 1999 to recreate the show in London. Julie Taymor and Michael Curry created hundreds of masks and puppets.

Scenic design is by British designer Richard Hudson and lighting is by Donald Holder. Costume design is by Julie Taymor, and choreography by Garth Fagan. The book was adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated feature and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the screenplay.

The original score from the animated film was expanded for the stage and now features 15 musical numbers. As well as writing completely new songs, South African composer Lebo M created an evocative blend of African rhythms and chorales, with additional material by Julie Taymor and Mark Mancina.

Elton John and Tim Rice have added three new numbers to the five that they wrote for the award-winning score of the animated film. The resulting sound of THE LION KING is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, including the Academy Award®-winning Can You Feel The Love Tonight and the haunting Shadowland.

THE LION KING runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until 16 September 2023.

Disney’s The Lion King at Lyceum Theatre

Related News & Reviews Past & Present

  1. The UK & Ireland Tour of Disney’s The Lion King Cast Announced
  2. Disney’s The Lion King reveals cast for UK & Ireland Tour
  3. Disney’s The Lion King UK and Ireland Tour Announces More Venues
  4. New Simba announced for Disney’s The Lion King UK & Ireland Tour
  5. Disney’s The Lion King announces a second UK and Ireland tour


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