Jason Raize, Broadway's Original Simba in The Lion King, Dead at 28 | Playbill

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Obituaries Jason Raize, Broadway's Original Simba in The Lion King, Dead at 28 Jason Raize Rothenberg, the handsome young actor who played Simba in Broadway's The Lion King, died suddenly in Yass, Australia, his family confirmed.
Jason Raize. Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Mr. Rothenberg (whose stage name was Jason Raize) was 28. The actor took his own life the week of Feb. 2, according to sources in the theatre community.

He lived in the Oneonta, NY, area throughout his childhood, and performed in numerous Oneonta and Orpheus Theatre productions.

Prior to playing the title character in The Lion King at Broadway's New Amsterdam, Mr. Raize succeeded Dennis DeYoung of Styx in a national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, playing Pilate.

His credits included productions of The King and I, Miss Saigon, Yeston & Kopit's Phantom (title role) and Gypsy. His original Stagebill bio for The Lion King included this quote: "You will find rest from vain fancies if you perform every act in life as though it were your last." The source was Marcus Antonius.

His last performance on Broadway in The Lion King was Aug. 20, 2000. The young actor used his talents to address concerns for the environment, and was named an Ambassador of Goodwill for the UN Environment Program.

His television program "Keeping It Wild With Jason Raize" grew out of a strong desire to promote alliances between the environment and entertainment communities, and through it to show children in particular that exciting possibilities exist, according to his family.

Mr. Raize was predeceased by his mother Geraldine Bakalar Rothenberg and his brother Andrew Werner Rothenberg. He is survived by his father Robert Rothenberg of Oneonta, NY; mother Sarah MacArthur of Wrentham, MA; sister Lisa Williams of Poughquag, NY; step-mother Monet Rothenberg of Oneonta, NY; step father Jim Kidd of Wrentham, MA; step-brothers Kevin Williams, Dwayne Whitney, Khary Menelik, and Brandon Swain, and step-sisters Haabiba Whitney, and Nicole Swain.

A memorial service will be held 2 PM Feb. 15 at the Unitarian Universalist Society, 12 Ford Avenue, Oneonta. All are welcome to attend, and to share a story, poem, reading or song. You may bring a copy of a photo or a written story for a memorial scrapbook.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to Orpheus Theatre in Oneonta are welcome.

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