On April 23, a press conference was held to reveal the names of five lead performers. Heading the cast will be Jérémy Fontanet as Simba with Léah as Nala, Jee-L as Mufasa and Olivier Breitman as Scar. Rafiki will be portrayed by South African performer Zama Magudulela, who has already been part of other Lion King productions in Australia, China and Germany. No further casting has been announced.
The Elton John-Tim Rice musical will be performed in French. Lyrics and dialogue will be adapted by Stéphane Laporte, who earned a Molière nomination (the French equivalent of the Tony Award) for his work on the French adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof two seasons ago.
Stage Entertainment France, a subsidiary of Stage Entertainment, will produce the show. With Kander and Ebb's Cabaret currently running at the Folies Bergère, The Lion King will mark Stage Entertainment France's second venture into the Parisian theatre world. The Theatre Mogador will be renovated to accommodate the sophisticated machinery.
A first single, "He Lives In You (Il Vit En Toi)," performed by Zama Magudulela, Jee-L and Jérémy Fontanet has just been released by EMI-Capitol. The complete cast recording will follow in the fall.
The Lion King originally opened at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre Nov. 13, 1997. Directed by Julie Taymor — who became the first woman to ever receive a Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical — the musical 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. The musical now plays Broadway's Minskoff Theatre. Visit www.leroilion.fr for more information.
Stéphane Ly-Cuong is a Paris based freelance writer and director.