Newcomer Aaron Nelson Is The Lion King's New Simba
By Adam Hetrick
Newcomer Aaron Nelson makes his Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning production of The Lion King Aug. 27 at the Minskoff Theatre.
Nelson is the first Simba since the late Jason Raize created the role in the 1997 Broadway premiere of The Lion King to play the role on Broadway without having previously been a member of another Lion King cast.
A native of Chicago, Nelson's regional credits include columbinus 2.0 (American Theater Company), Rent (American Theater Company) and Dreamgirls (Theater 47). He made his television debut in the NBC series "Chicago Fire."
The Lion King currently features Chantel Riley as Nala, Gareth Sax as Scar, Alton Fitzgerald White as Mufasa, Buyi Zama as Rafiki, Jeff Binder as Zazu, Ben Jeffrey as Pumbaa and Fred Berman as Timon.
Also featured are James Brown-Orleans as Banzai, Bonita J. Hamilton as Shenzi, Enrique Segura as Ed, with Caleb McLaughlin and Jaden Jordan alternating as Young Simba and Bobbi Bordley and Teshi Thomas alternating as Young Nala.
The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rice's music from "The Lion King" animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice; additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Taymor and Hans Zimmer; and music from "Rhythm of the Pride Lands," an album inspired by the original music in the film, written by Lebo M, Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer.
The book was adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed "The Lion King" animated feature, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the film's screenplay. Other members of the creative team include Steve Canyon Kennedy (sound design), Michael Ward (hair and makeup design), John Stefaniuk (associate director), Marey Griffith (associate choreographer), Clement Ishmael (music supervisor).
Directed by Julie Taymor — who became the first woman to ever receive a Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical — The Lion King has become an international hit with productions playing all around the globe. In fact, the Elton John-Tim Rice musical has won over 30 major awards. Those include six Tony Awards, including one for Best Musical; eight Drama Desk Awards; six Outer Critics Circle Awards; two Sir Laurence Oliviers; the Evening Standard Award for Best Theatrical Event; and three Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards.
Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, The Lion King currently plays Broadway's Minskoff Theatre (200 West 45th Street). For tickets, show information and performance schedule, call Ticketmaster's Disney on Broadway hotline at (866) 870-2717 or visit LionKing.com.
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