A native of Durban, South Africa, Pearl Khwezi recently stepped into the role of Nala after making her Broadway debut in the ensemble of The Lion King in 2018. Khwezi gave Playbill a behind-the-scenes look at her unique routine from pre-show to places in the new photo series Thank You, Five.
Since its Broadway premiere November 13, 1997, 25 global productions of The Lion King have been seen by nearly 110 million people. Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), the international hit musical has played more than 100 cities in 21 countries on every continent except Antarctica; its worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show, or other entertainment title in box-office history.
The Lion King won six 1998 Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Scenic Design (Richard Hudson), Best Costume Design (Julie Taymor), Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Best Choreography (Garth Fagan), and Best Direction of a Musical. The international hit musical has also earned more than 70 major arts awards, including the 1998 NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Event of the Year, and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design.
The show’s director, costume designer, and mask co-designer, Julie Taymor, was the first woman to win a Tony Award for Direction of a Musical; she continues to supervise new productions of the show around the world.
The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rice’s songs from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs by the pair; additional musical material by Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor, and Hans Zimmer; and music from Rhythm of the Pride Lands, an album inspired by the original music in the film, written by Lebo M, Mark Mancina, and Hans Zimmer.