NPR hosted the company of Broadway's The Lion King for a Tiny Desk Concert, featuring exclusive arrangements by Jim Abbott.
Performers for the concert included L. Steven Taylor, Tshidi Manye, Brandon A. McCall, Pearl Khwezi, Lindiwe Dlamini, Mduduzi Madela, and S’bu Ngema, who were accompanied by Jim Abbott on the keyboard and guitar, Anders Bostrom on the flutes, David Kuhn on the bass, Rolando Morales-Matos on percussion, and Juan Carlito Mendoza on drums.
Disney's The Lion King became the third production in Broadway history to celebrate its 25th anniversary on the Main Stem on November 13, following the still-running Broadway productions of The Phantom of the Opera and Chicago.
The Tony-winning musical officially opened November 13, 1997, at the New Amsterdam Theatre, subsequently transferring to the Minskoff Theatre, where it continues, in June 2006. There have been 28 productions over the life of the show, seen by 110 million people. Currently, 115,000 people enjoy the show in nine productions on three continents every week.
The Broadway company is currently headed by Stephen Carlile as Scar, L. Stephen Taylor as Mufasa, Tshidi Manye as Rafiki, Cameron Pow as Zazu, Ben Jeffrey as Pumbaa, Fred Berman as Timon, Brandon A. McCall as Simba, and Pearl Khwezi as Nala.
Director, costume designer, and mask co-designer Julie Taymor, the first woman to win a Tony for Best Director of a Musical, remains actively involved in the show, launching new productions and maintaining the flagship Broadway production. Composer Lebo M and Tony-winning choreographer Garth Fagan hold their own records: With The Lion King at over 9,700 Main Stem performances, they are the longest-running Black composer and choreographer in Broadway history.
Many of the artists and craftspeople who launched the show remain an integral part of it. Lindiwe Dlamini has performed in the musical since its first pre-Broadway preview in Minneapolis in summer 1997. Seven musicians have been in the orchestra pit since its Broadway opening, including Karl Jurman, who has been musical director since 2005. All told, 16 original staff members continue their work onstage and off.
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 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.
The book was adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated The Lion King feature, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay.
Other members of the creative team include Michael Curry, who designed the masks and puppets with Taymor, as well as sound designer Steve Canyon Kennedy, hair and makeup designer Michael Ward, associate director John Stefaniuk, associate choreographer Marey Griffith, music supervisor Clement Ishmael, and production supervisor Doc Zorthian. Anne Quart serves as co-producer.