As preparation for the try-out, composer/lyricist Lebo Morake (known as "Lebo M") will hold master classes on the techniques of African singing, rhythms and musical style. Those classes will take place in NY, Jan. 6 (1 & 7 PM) and at Washington DC's Kennedy Center, Jan. 7 (1 & 7 PM). These classes are free and open to the public. They're recommended for performers planning to audition for The Lion King but not mandatory (nor will attendance serve a guarantee of employment). To RSVP -- before Jan. 2 -- for these classes, call (212) 827-5467 (NY) or (202) 416-8846 (DC).
Lebo M, a South African, took his musical inspiration from Zulu culture and the songs of diamond mine workers. These he combined with American jazz and r&b -- which had become very popular in the country. Lebo M studied at the Duke Ellington School of Music in Washington DC, where he began introducing African musical styles into the hymns of the local church choir.
In 1992, Lebo M collaborated with Hans Zimmer on the soundtrack for Disney's animated film, "The Lion King," which won them both a Grammy. The stage version will feature music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice (including the well-known film songs, "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" and "The Circle Of Life"). Additional music will come from Hans Zimmer, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin and Lebo M. Mancina will produce all the music for the stage version. Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi are writing the book.
The Lion King will open at Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre July 1997, with an eye towards a Broadway opening at the New Amsterdam Theatre in fall 1997.