Earlier this month it was reported that the Los Angeles production of The Lion King, the hit stage version of the blockbuster film, will end its record-breaking engagement at Los Angeles' Pantages Theatre at the end of 2002 in preparation for an April 2003 debut at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre. This week, the casting and the performance dates for the First National Tour of the Elton John-Tim Rice musical — which premieres April 17 in Denver — were announced. Patrick Page, who starred as Lumiere in Broadway's Beauty and the Beast, will head the cast as the malevolent Scar, and former Ragtime star Alton F. White will portray the Lion King, Mufasa. Fredi Walker-Browne, who created the role of JoAnne Jefferson in Rent and who also appeared in Once on This Island, will be featured as the all knowing Rafiki. Others in the cast include John Plumpis as Timon, Jeffrey Binder as Zazu, Blake Hammond as Puumba, Josh Tower as Simba and Kissy Simmons as Nala. Playing the three hyenas are James Brown-Orleans, Jacquelyn Renae Hodges and Wayne Pyle. Alternating the role of Young Simba are two 12-year-olds, Akil I. LuQman and Chris Warren.
The Tony-winning musical will play the following venues:
April 17-June 23 at the Buell Theatre in Denver, CO
July 5-August 25 at the Jones Theatre in Houston, TX
August 30-Sept. 8 at the Bass Hall in Fort Worth, TX
Sept. 13-Oct. 20 at the Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas, TX
Oct. 25-Dec. 8 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Dec. 13-Jan. 26, 2003 at the Tamp Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa, FL
Jan. 31-March 16 at the Civic Center in Atlanta, GA
March 21-May 18 at the Aronoff Center for the Performing Arts in Cincinnati
May 23-June 22 at the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC
June 27-Aug. 17 at the State Theatre in Cleveland, OH
Aug. 22-Oct. 12 at the Fox Theatre in Saint Louis, MO
The U.S. national tour is the eighth production of the award-winning musical, which has also played New York, Tokyo, Osaka, London, Toronto, Los Angeles and Hamburg. When The Lion King opened on Broadway in 1997, it received six Tony Awards, including one for director Julie Taymor, who became the first woman in history to win a Tony for Best Director of a Musical. Tickets to the Broadway production at the New Amsterdam Theatre are available by calling The Disney Hotline at (212) 307-4747.