The Lion King Broadway and touring companies, which have featured many South African actors in their casts, have raised more than $5.5 million for BC/EFA since they began fundraising for the organization in 1997: $3,031,000 of the money raised has been sent to organizations in South Africa; and $2.5 million has been sent to AIDS-related programs at The Actors Fund, including The HIV/AIDS Initiative, The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, The Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic and more, and to more then 400 AIDS and family service organizations across the United States.
BC/EFA executive director Tom Viola said in a statement, “When The Lion King first opened in 1997, we were excited to hear about the South African actors in the cast. I could not imagine, however, standing in front of them and talking about AIDS as if it was only happening here. BC/EFA couldn’t ask them to help us reach out to people living with AIDS across the United States without acknowledging what was happening to their friends and families back home and sharing some of the resources they were making possible with organizations providing the most basic services for South Africans. BC/EFA salutes The Lion King family and we look forward to our ongoing collaboration and unique outreach to communities in South Africa, even as we look to the day when a vaccine for AIDS makes our concerted and committed efforts obsolete.”
In an additional statement, Disney Theatrical producer and president Thomas Schumacher added, “Well over 200 South African actors have worked on The Lion King over the course of its life and they are at the heart and soul of the show. It is humbling to realize what our Lion King family has been able to give back to their glorious country. Though Disney proudly supports BC/EFA on many levels, this staggering achievement is the result of hundreds of dedicated individuals from all nations working tirelessly, selflessly and on their own accord. We stand in awe of their accomplishment.”
The Lion King is currently running at the Minskoff Theatre. For more information, visit broadwaycares.org.