Disney Musical Wiki

The Lion King
TLK Vintage Broadway Poster.jpg
Musical information
Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Book Roger Allers
Irene Mecchi
Basis 1994 Disney animated film
The Lion King
Productions 1997 Minneapolis tryout
1997 Broadway
1998 Tokyo
1999 London
1999 Toronto
2000 Los Angeles
2001 Hamburg
2002 U.S. National Tour
2003 U.S. National Tour
2003 Sydney
2004 The Hague
2006 Seoul
2007 Paris
2009 Las Vegas
2011 Madrid
2011 Singapore
2012 U.K. National Tour
2013 São Paulo
2015 Basel
2016 Tempe
2017 U.S. National Tour
2018 Manila
2019 U.K. National Tour
2019 Antarctica
Awards 1998 Tony Award for Best Musical

The Lion King is a musical based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice along with the musical score created by Hans Zimmer with choral arrangements by Lebo M. directed by Julie Taymor, the musical features actors in animal costumes as well as giant, hollow puppets. The opening on Broadway in November 13th, 1997, right here on the Disney's "The Lion King" show is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.

The musical debuted July 8, 1997, in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Orpheum Theatre, and was an instant success before premiering on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre on October 15, 1997 in previews with the official opening on November 13, 1997. On June 13, 2006, the Broadway production moved to the Minskoff Theatre to make way for the musical version of Mary Poppins, where it is still running after more than 7,011 performances as of September 14, 2014. It is now Broadway's fifth longest-running show in history. As of April 2012, it is the highest grossing Broadway show of all time, having grossed $1,091,440,972.

The show debuted in the West End's Lyceum Theatre on October 19, 1999 and is still running. The cast of the West End production were invited to perform at the Royal Variety Performance 2008 at the London Palladium on December 11, in the presence of senior members of the British Royal Family.

U.S. and international productions

Hamburg, Germany: Lion King Theatre

After the success of the Broadway show, the show was produced in the United Kingdom in 1999 by Harrison Lochtenberg, and continues to play at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Taymor led the British production of the show, with Melissa De Melo as the producer. The London Production has celebrated its 10th anniversary and 20th anniversary in the West End.

A Canadian production of the show was staged in Toronto and ran for nearly four years at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The show ran from 1999–2004.

A Los Angeles production began performances at the Pantages Theatre on September 29, 2000 with an official opening on October 19, 2000. The show closed on January 12, 2003 after 952 performances.

The show played at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney, Australia, from October 16, 2003, until June 26, 2005. The production then ran at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne from July 28, 2005 until June 4, 2006.

The musical have a Korean production from October 28, 2006 to October 28, 2007 at the Charlotte Theater, southern Seoul.

The Dutch production in 2004 was made at the Circus Theater until August 27, 2006, taking place for Tarzan.

Beginning in June 2007, The Lion King Musical debuted its first ever performance on the African continent in Johannesburg, South Africa. Its tenth year anniversary was celebrated in the new Teatro Theatre at Monte Casino in Fourways. The Lion King is the first production to take place in the new theatre. The opening night in Johannesburg, was celebrated with key persons involving the creation of the Lion King Musical, and American talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who had recently opened an educational academy for girls in Johannesburg The show closed on February 17, 2008.

The Lion King Musical debuted in Paris on September 22, 2007 in the Théâtre Mogador.

There is currently one U.S. touring production. (At one time there were 2 US touring productions travelling simultaneously). The tour version is very similar to the original Broadway production; however, certain scenic elements which rise out of the stage floor (such as Pride Rock, the stampede, and the grasslands) were converted to less costly configurations for the touring productions. The sun during the opening is reduced in size for the shorter-lasting tours. Stage sizes are also smaller, and the size of the pit orchestra is decreased.

In August 2008, a production opened in Taipei, Taiwan, closing on August 24, 2009.

The musical had a Mexican production (in English) between January 3 and January 27, 2008 in Mexico City.

A Las Vegas production opened at Mandalay Bay on May 15, 2009 with previews beginning May 5, 2009.

On October 20, 2011 the first Spanish production opened at Teatro Lope de Vega in Madrid, produced by Stage Entertainment.

The Lion King, is coming to the Marina Bay Sands Theatre. Base Entertainment and Marina Bay Sands are bringing the Disney Theatrical Group production to Singapore. The South-east Asian premiere in Singapore will be a duplicate of the other shows performing in other parts of the world, such as London and New York. It will feature a new company of performers auditioned around the world. The show debuted in March 2011, closing on October 30, 2011.

It was announced what musical will come to Russia in near future.

On February 2012, it was announced that The Lion King will begin a UK tour, with Bristol performances beginning on August 31, 2012 and Manchester on December 1. Also, it was announced that a production at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney will debut in December 2013.

A Brazilian production was confirmed to debut in São Paulo in March 28, 2013. Auditions take place in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. The cast contain mainly Brazilian actors and seven South African actors. The Portuguese lyrics were translated by Brazilian singer Gilberto Gil.

It has been confirmed that an Ireland production will debut in 2013 as part of the United Kingdom tour.

Synopsis (plot)

Actress Buyi Zama as Rafiki in Taiwan.

Geoff Hoyle as Zazu

The story of The Lion King takes place in the Pride Lands, where a lion rules over the other animals as king.

At the beginning of the play, Rafiki, a mandrill shaman, anoints Simba, the newborn cub of King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi, and presents him to a gathering of animals at Pride Rock ("The Circle of Life"). Meanwhile, Mufasa's younger brother, Scar, realizes that he is no longer the heir to the throne and plots to kill Simba. Sometime later Rafiki paints an image of the cub and asks the spirits to conjure the new prince's name: Simba.

Months later, Mufasa takes Simba, around the Pride Lands, teaching him about the "Circle of Life", the delicate balance affecting all living things. Later, Scar tells Simba about the elephant graveyard, a place where Mufasa has warned him not to go. Simba asks his mother if he can go to the water-hole with his best friend, Nala. Sarabi and Nala's mother Sarafina agree, but only if Mufasa's majordomo, the hornbill Zazu, goes with them. Simba and Nala elude Zazu's supervision ("I Just Can't Wait to Be King") and go to the graveyard instead. There, the cubs are chased by Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, Scar's spotted hyena henchman who try to kill them, but are rescued by Mufasa, who was summoned by Zazu.

Later that night, Mufasa is very disappointed at Simba's reckless disobedience, and explains the difference between bravery and bravado. Mufasa tells Simba about the great kings of the past and how they watch over everything from the stars ("They Live in You"). Mufasa says that he will always be there for his son.Scar gains the loyalty of the hyenas by claiming that if he becomes king, they will "never go hungry again." Plotting further, Scar gathers more hyenas ("Be Prepared") forming an army. Some time later, Mufasa discusses Simba's bad behavior with Zazu, who reminds Mufasa that he had the same tendency to get into trouble at Simba's age. Scar lures Simba into a gorge for a "surprise from his father" then signals the hyenas create a wildebeest stampede down into the gorge where Simba is. Alerted by an insincerely dramatic Scar, Mufasa races to rescue Simba from the stampede. He saves his son but is left clinging to the edge of a cliff, which results in Scar flinging him into the stampede below, where he is buried into the some of the wildebeests' horns, hit the ground with extreme force, and finally trampled to death by the wildebeest. Scar convinces Simba that he was responsible for his own father's death, and recommends that he flees the Pride Lands, never to return. To compound this, Scar once again sends the hyenas to kill Simba, but as Simba reaches a thorny embankment, they let him escape, hurling threats that he will be killed if ever seen again. That night back at Pride Rock,  Rafiki and the lionesses mourn the deaths of Mufasa and Simba  ("Rafiki Mourns"). Meanwhile Scar informs the pride that both Mufasa and Simba were killed in the stampede, and that he is assuming the throne as the closest of king. After becoming king, Scar fulfils his promise to the hyenas and allows them to come into The Pride Lands. Rafiki returns to her tree and smears the drawing of Simba, while Sarabi and Nala quietly grieve.

Simba collapses in a distant desert where he is found unconscious by Timon and Pumbaa, a meerkat-warthog duo who raise Simba under their carefree "Hakuna Matata" lifestyle ("Hakuna Matata"). When Simba has grown into a young adult he stays in the jungle with his new friends for a long time.

The chorus, dressed in colorful clothes with ornate bird puppets and kites, begin the Second Act ("One by One"). But as the song ends, however, the beautiful birds went away to their place and they are replaced by buzzards and the gazelle skeletons. Under Scar's rule, the Circle of Life is out of balance and a drought has hit the Pride Lands. With Zazu, now a prisoner of Scar, listens to the king's woes. Zazu attempts to comfort the new king by singing "It's a Small World". The hyenas are complaining about the lack of food, but Scar is only concerned with himself and why he is not loved. He is haunted by visions of Mufasa and rapidly switches between delusional confidence and paranoid despair ("The Madness of King Scar"). Nala arrives to confront Scar about the famine and Scar decides she will be his queen and give him cubs. Nala fiercely rebukes him and resolves to leave the Pride Lands to find help. Rafiki and the lionesses bless her for her journey ("Shadowland"). Back in the jungle, Timon and Pumbaa want to sleep, but the restless Simba is unable to settle. Annoyed, Simba leaves them, but Timon and Pumbaa lose their courage and follow him. Simba leaps across a fast-moving river and challenges Timon to do the same. Timon falls in and is swept downstream. He grabs a branch over a waterfall and calls for Simba's help, but Simba is paralysed by a flashback of Mufasa's death. Timon falls from the branch and Simba snaps out of the flashback, rescuing his friend. Simba is ashamed that Timon nearly died because of his recklessness. The three friends settle to sleep and discuss the stars. Simba recalls Mufasa's words, but his friends laugh at the notion of dead kings watching them. Simba leaves, expressing his loneliness and bitterly recalling Mufasa's promise to be there for him ("Endless Night"). Rafiki hears the song on the wind, joyfully realises that Simba is alive, and draws a mane onto her painting of Simba.  In the jungle, Pumbaa is hunted and chased by a lioness. Simba confronts her and saves them from a hungry lioness who is revealed to be Nala. Simba shows Nala around his home and the two begin to fall in love ("Can You Feel the Love Tonight"). Nala then tells him that Scar's tyrannical reign has turned the Pride Lands into a barren wasteland; she demands that Simba must return and take his rightful place as king, but Simba refuses, still guilty about supposedly causing his father's death. Rafiki arrives and persuades Simba to return to the Pride Lands, aided by Mufasa's presence in the stars. After some advance from Rafiki and the ghost of his father, Simba, followed by Nala, Timon and Pumbaa, returns home.

Once back at Pride Rock, Simba (with Timon, Pumbaa and Nala) is horrified to see the condition of the Pride Lands. After seeing Scar strike his mother, Simba announces his return. In response, Simba confronts Scar and the truth about Mufasa's death which is revealed by an overly confident Scar who forces Simba over the edge of Pride Rock, just as a lighting bolt starts a fire below. As Simba dangles over the edge of Pride Rock, Scar whispers to Simba that he killed Mufasa. Enraged, Simba leaps up and pins Scar to the ground, forcing him to admit the truth to the pride. A raging battle then ensues between the hyenas and the lionesses, Timon, and Pumbaa which results in Simba cornering Scar. In the midst of their fight, Scar tries to surreptitiously blame everything on the hyenas, but the hyenas overhear his conversation with Simba. Simba orders Scar to flee the Pride Lands. Scar pretends to leave but turns to attack Simba, resulting in a final duel. Simba eventually triumphs over his uncle by flipping him and kicks him over a low cliff. Scar survives the fall but finds himself surrounded by the now resentful hyenas. The hyenas surround their traitorous fallen leader, and attack him and maul him to death, as flames rise around them.  After Scar was defeated, Simba became the king but she tried to explain to Simba that he couldn't be king, because Scar chose Kovu to succeed him. Simba tried to reason that his uncle was never the true king but Zira would not reason and fought him in battle. Simba defeated her and forced Zira and her entire family to leave the Pridelands forever.

With Scar and the hyenas gone, and with the rightful king in place, the Pride Lands are restored which is turning green with life again then the animals come back to gather in celebration. And the Musical concludes with Rafiki presenting Simba and Nala's newborn cub into the air, thus continuing the Circle of Life.

Musical adaptation

The musical incorporates several changes and additions to the storyline as compared to the film. The mandrill Rafiki's gender was changed to a female role because Taymor believed that there was generally no leading female character in the film. Rafiki was portrayed by Tsidii Le Loka in the original Broadway musical, and by Josette Bushell-Mingo in the original London production.

The Lion King on Broadway. showing originally at the New Amsterdam Theater (shown), it is now showing at the Minskoff.

Several new scenes are present, including a conversation between Mufasa and Zazu about Mufasa's parenting and a perilous scene in which Timon finds himself nearly drowning in a waterfall while Simba feels powerless to help him. A major narrative addition is the depiction of Nala's departure in the scene "The Madness of King Scar," where the mentally deteriorating villain tries to make Nala his mate. Nala refuses and later announces her intention to depart the Pride Lands and find help. She receives the blessings of the lionesses and Rafiki during the new song "Shadowland."

The Lion King in the West End

Like its predecessor, the Beauty and the Beast musical, the show adds more songs to its stage production, including Morning Report, sung by Zazu the hornbill and later added to the film for the Platinum Edition DVD release. "Shadowland," originally featured on the CD Rhythm of the Pride Lands with Zulu lyrics as "Lea Halelela", was adapted for the musical with new English lyrics. It is sung by Nala, the lionesses, and Rafiki. "Endless Night", also from Rhythm of the Pride Lands with Swahili lyrics as "Lala" is sung by Simba while reflecting on Mufasa's promise to always be there. "One By One" from the Rhythm of the Pride Lands CD was adapted as the rousing African-styled Entre Act sung by the chorus at the opening of the second act.

Many of the animals portrayed in the production are actors in costume using extra tools to move their costumes. For example, the giraffes are portrayed by actors carefully walking on stilts. For principal characters such as Mufasa and Scar, the costumes feature mechanical headpieces that can be raised and lowered to foster the illusion of a cat "lunging" at another. Other characters, such as the hyenas, Zazu, Timon, and Pumbaa, are portrayed by actors in life-sized puppets or costumes. The Timon character is described by Taymor as one of the hardest roles to master because the movement of the puppet's head and arms puts a strain on the actor's arms, back, and neck.

Composer Lebo M led the original Broadway chorus. The chorus members are usually visible in the production, rather than being hidden in the shadows as seen in some other musical shows.

A new section of the production, the Lioness Hunt, features a particularly complicated dance sequence for the actresses, and the dance is made even more difficult by the large headpieces worn during the scene.

During the show's run in China, Chinese elements were included in the musical. One of the songs was adapted to a well-known Chinese pop song, "Laoshu ai dami" or "Mice Love Rice". The cast even cracked jokes and attempted conversations with the audience in Chinese.

As of June 27, 2010, nine minutes of the Broadway version were cut, among them, the entire "Morning Report" musical number. The song was also removed from subsequent productions and cast recordings, such as the Spanish one.

Original Broadway cast

Actor Role
Jason Raize Simba
John Vickery Scar
Samuel E. Wright Mufasa
Heather Headley Nala
Tsidii Le Loka Rafiki
Max Casella Timon
Tom Alan Robbins Pumbaa
Geoff Hoyle Zazu
Tracy Nicole Chapman Shenzi
Stanley Wayne Mathis Banzai
Kevin Cahoon Ed
Gina Breedlove Sarabi
Scott Irby-Ranniar Young Simba
Kajuana Shuford Young Nala

Original London cast

Actor Role
Roger Wright Simba
Luke Youngblood Young Simba
Rob Edwards Scar
Cornell John Mufasa
Paulette Ivory Nala
Nathalie Emmanuel Young Nala
Josette Bushell-Mingo Rafiki
Simon Gregor Timon
Martyn Ellis Pumbaa
Gregory Gudgeon Zazu
Dawn Michael Sarabi
Stephanie Charles Shenzi
Paul J. Medford Banzai
Christopher Holt Ed


Various international cast recordings are available on CD, including:

  • 1997 Broadway Cast
  • 1999 Japanese Cast
  • 2000 London Re-Recorded
  • 2002 German Cast
  • 2003 Australian Cast
  • 2004 Dutch Cast 
  • 2006 Korean Cast
  • 2007 French Cast
  • 2007 South African Cast
  • 2009 Las Vegas Cast
  • 2011 Spanish Cast
  • 2011 Japanese Re-Recorded
  • 2013 Brazilian Cast 
  • 2015 Switzerland Cast
  • 2015 Mexican Cast
  • 2016 Dutch Revival 
  • 2016 Russian Cast
  • 2016 Mandarin Cast
  • 2018 Italian Cast

Note: Of all the productions (listed above), ones have the cast recordings released. most recordings used the same track from the German recording until 2016.

Original Broadway Cast Recording

The Lion King [Original Broadway Cast Recording] album cover art.

The Lion King [Original Broadway Cast Recording] is a cast recording released in 1997 by The Walt Disney Company, a recording of the songs as heard in the stage musical. Most of the tracks were composed by African composer Lebo M and focused primarily on the African influences of the film's original music, with most songs being sung either partially or entirely in various African languages.

The Spanish cast recording doesn't have The Morning Report maybe because the scene was removed from subsequent productions after the Broadway one. Also, it is the only one where One by One was renamed due to the language (in Spanish, it became Somos Mil)

Rafiki's chants in "Rafiki Mourns" were written by Tsidii Le Loka, who originated the role on Broadway.

  1. Nants' Ingonyama/Circle of Life - Opening
  2. Mouse/Life's Not Fair (Score)
  3. The Pridelands/Rafiki Paints Simba (Score)
  4. Grasslands Chant
  5. Everything The Light Touches/Circle (Score)
  6. The Morning Report
  7. Scar's Cave (Score)
  8. The Lioness Hunt
  9. Busa (Score)
  10. I Just Can't Wait to Be King
  11. The Elephant Graveyard (Score)
  12. Chow Down
  13. Father and Son Talk (Score)
  14. They Live in You
  15. Back at the Elephant Graveyard (Score)
  16. Be Prepared
  17. Mufasa and Zazu Talks (Score)
  18. Simba and Scar (Score)
  19. The Stampede!
  20. Mufasa Dies/Run Away (Score)
  21. Rafiki Mourns
  22. Eulogy/Be Prepared (reprise) - (Score) 
  23. Rafiki Depaints Simba
  24. Hakuna Matata
  25. One by One
  26. Bleak Clusters (Score)
  27. The Madness of King Scar
  28. Shadowland
  29. The Lion Sleeps Tonight
  30. Waterfall (Score)
  31. Under The Stars (Score)
  32. Endless Night
  33. Nala Chases Pumbaa/Simba and Nala Reunion (Score)
  34. Can You Feel the Love Tonight
  35. Pool Reveal (Score)
  36. He Lives in You (Reprise)
  37. This Is My Home (Score)
  38. Timon Hula/Return To Pride Rock/First Confrontation (Score) 
  39. Simba Confronts Scar/Final Confrontation/Scar's Death (Score)
  40. King of Pride Rock/Circle of Life (Reprise) - Ending
  41. Curtain call

Note: The songs Grasslands Chant, The Lioness Hunt, Chow Down, They Live in You, Rafiki Mourns, One by One (present in The Lion King), The Madness of King Scar, Shadowland (present at The Lion King), Endless Night and Simba Confronts Scar are newest classics.


The original Broadway show included:

  • 2 reeds (Ethnic flutes/Western flute/Piccolo and Flute/Clarinet/Bass Clarinet)
  • 3 violins (3rd doubling viola)
  • 2 Cellos
  • 3 French Horns
  • 1 Trombone
  • 1 Bass Trombone doubling Tuba
  • 1 Bass (Electric & Upright)
  • Drums
  • Guitar
  • 4 Percussions
  • 2 Keyboards
  • 3 Piano accordions
  • 5 Vintage guitar zithers
  • 6 Maracas

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1998 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Max Casella Nominated
Geoff Hoyle Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Tsidii Le Loka Won
Outstanding Director Julie Taymor Won
Outstanding Choreography Garth Fagan Won
Outstanding Orchestrations Robert Elhai, David Metzger, and Bruce Fowler Nominated
Outstanding Set Design Richard Hudson Won
Outstanding Costume Design Julie Taymor Won
Outstanding Lighting Design Donald Holder Won
Outstanding Sound Design Tony Meola Won
Outstanding Puppet Design Julie Taymor and Michael Curry Won
Theatre World Award Max Casella Won
Tony Award Best Musical Won
Best Book of a Musical Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi Nominated
Best Original Score Elton John, Tim Rice, Hans Zimmer, Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin and Julie Taymor Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Samuel E. Wright Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Tsidii Le Loka Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Julie Taymor Won
Best Choreography Garth Fagan Won
Best Orchestrations Robert Elhai, David Metzger and Bruce Fowler Nominated
Best Scenic Design for a Musical Richard Hudson Won
Best Costume Design for a Musical Julie Taymor and Michael Curry Won
Best Lighting Design of a Musical Donald Holder Won

Original London production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1999 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated
Best Theatre Choreographer Garth Fagan Won
Best Costume Design Julie Taymor Won

Original France production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2008 Molière Award Best Musical Won
Best Costumes Julie Taymor Won
Best Lighting Design Donald Holder Won


This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at The Lion King (musical). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Disney Musical Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.