Mary Randle will be the new Nala in Broadway's The Lion King. She will replace Heather Headley, who is leaving July 5 to take the title role in another Disney musical, Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida. That Elton John/Tim Rice musical is set to open Oct. 7 at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.
Randle is new to the Lion King company and, like Headley, will be making her Broadway debut in the show. Her credits include The Acting Company's production of Mud River Stone, the Public Theater's Henry V, and Hope Repertory Theatre's Beehive. Her first performance as Nala will be on July 7.
Headley is due to begin rehearsals in Elaborate Lives in July. As first reported in Playbill On-Line, she will play Aida an enslaved African princess whose love for Radames, the captain of the Egyptian guard, is doomed. Sherie Rene Scott has been cast as Amneris, Aida's royal mistress who also loves Radames. The role of Radames is yet to be cast.
Prior to making her Broadway debut as The Lion King's main lioness, Headley understudied and performed the role of Sarah in Ragtime. Other credits include leading roles in Pippin, Dreamgirls, and And The World Goes 'Round.
Scott appeared in the recent Broadway revival of Grease! as Marty. Her other roles include Martha in the La Jolla Playhouse production of Randy Newman's musical Faust in 1995, and, most recently, a turn as Maureen in the Broadway production of Rent. Elaborate Lives has been described as a more intimate show than Disney's previous efforts, Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. Alliance spokesperson Stephanie Lee said there was no further information as to the nature of the plot or what approach to the classic tale librettist Linda Woolverton and composers John and Rice would take. She said the script was not finalized and some tweaking was expected when rehearsals begin in July. Beast director Robert Jess Roth will pilot the production.
Though a comparatively intimate telling, Elaborate Lives will nonetheless boast a cast of 20-25.
The musical's design team reads like Beauty and the Beast II. Scenic designer Stanley A. Meyer, costume designer Ann Hould-Ward, lighting designer Natasha Katz, and hair designer David Lawrence are all veterans or the original Broadway production. They are joined by sound designer Steve C. Kennedy and musical and vocal director Paul Bogaev.
The Beauty and the Beast connection flows through the entire creative team. Woolverton did the screen and stage adaptations of Beast, and Matt West, also from Beast, is the choreographer.
The Atlanta production is scheduled to run Sept. 11-Nov. 8, with an official opening tentatively slated for Oct. 7.
Tickets go on sale Aug. 8. For information, call (404) 733-4622.