Original Lion King cast and where they are now
See where the Broadway stars are today!
The Lion King is Broadway's third longest-running show brought to life by director Julie Taylor. The production is an exuberant mix of the songs from the movie, sumptuous costumes, and breathtaking puppetry that continues to put smiles on the faces till this day. Today we are going to take a look at the original stars and where they are today.
Simba - Jason Raize
After becoming the first ever Simba on stage on one of Broadway's biggest hits, Raize continued to make appearances within the industry. In 1998 he sang Simon & Garfunkel's The Sound of Silence' on The Paul Simon Album: Broadway Sings the Best of Paul Simon'. 1999 he was able to narrate the National Geographic documentary series Wild Africa: The Land of the Lion' and from then he signed a deal with Universal Records and went on to release two singles titled Taste the Tears' and You Win Again'. His last work was him being the voice of Denahi in Disney's animated movie Brother Bear' in 2003.
Nala - Heather Headley
After her breakthrough as the original Nala, she then originated the title role in Broadway's Aida' which earned her Tony Award for Best Actress in 2000. Between November 2012 to August 2013, Heather played the role of Rachel Marron in the musical adaptation of Whitney Houston's movie The Bodyguard' on the West End. She was nominated for an Olivier Award and What's On Stage Award for her performance in The Bodyguard. The success of her career continued when she gained the role of Shug Avery from Jennifer Hudson in the Broadway musical The Color Purple'. She has then co-starred in Spike Lee's Netflix She's Gotta Have It' as Dr Jamison, became the voice of Fikiri as Makini's Mother in The Lion Guard and in 2022 played the Witch in the Encores!' version of Into The Woods' alongside Sara Bareilles.
Scar - John Vickery
Before becoming Scar, Vickery also appeared in other Broadway shows like The Sisters Rosenweig, The Real Thing and Eminent Domain as well as being a part of Jurgen Vsych's short film Son for Sail'. He voiced the character of Legolas in the radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings in 1979, voiced Kenshiro in the 1986 film Fist of the North Star', Teknoman Dagger in Tekkaman Blade and the voice of Lucifer in the video game version of Dante's Inferno.
Rafiki - Tsidii Le Loka
Tsidii Le Loka received the Drama Desk Award, Drama League Award and Outer Critics Circle for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical and a Tony Award nomination for her performance as Rafiki in The Lion King. Fun fact, she was the only performer to compose the piece Rafiki Mourns'. She was able to be the first South African female to receive the Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement in Musical Theatre from The British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. She played Bloody Mary in South Pacific in 1999 after The Lion King. She has then made appearances in film and tv including, Rose Red and The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer and Law & Order, the television series Caught In The Act. She was invited to perform at Dr Nelson Mandela's first international Press Conference in Johannesburg after his release.
Mufasa - Samuel E. Wright
Wright originated the role of Major Joe Clark in Mule Bone as well as Mufasa. He played the role of the Scarecrow in the 1995 revival of The Wiz alongside Whitney Houston. In 1998 he was nominated for a Tony Award in 1998 for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his role as Mufasa. In 2005 he played the role of Jericho in the Fox television series Jonny Zero'. He also performed and recorded several songs for Walt Disney's animated film The Little Mermaid', The Little Mermaid 2', The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning' as Sebastian the Crab and voiced Kron in the Disney animated film Dinosaur'.
Timon - Max Casella
After his performance as the original Timon, Casella was awarded the Theatre World Award and Drama Desk Award nomination. In 2000 he returned to the Broadway world as Marcellus Washburn in the revival of The Music Man' until 2001. He then made appearances on tv, joining the HBO series The Sopranos' during the third season as Benny Fazio and performed as Dick Howser in the ESPN series The Bronx is Burning'. Like his co-star Samuel E. Wright he also went on to voice Top in The Little Mermaid 2' and Zini in Dinosaur'. In 2008 he played Mack Steiner in Leatherheads' and one of the main characters in Scaring the Fish' as Dennis.
Pumbaa - Tom Alan Robbins
As well as playing Pumbaa, Robbins played Thenardier in the first national tour of Les Miserables, the Off-Broadway productions of Little Shop of Horrors, Brooklynite, On the Verge, Isn't It Romantic, The Cardle Will Rock, The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, Henry V, King Lear, On The Air and A Nostalgiaspoof Review of the Golden Age of Radio. He has performed in many regional productions, to name a few, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Fiddler on the Roof and Taming of the Shrew.