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“The Lion King” Will Roar at DPAC in January

The Durham Performing Arts Center is bringing the gala North American tour of Disney’s The Lion King to the Bull City for a four-week “sitdown,” starting Jan. 4th, as part of DPAC‘s SunTrust Broadway Series. The blockbuster 1997 Broadway musical, based on the hit 1994 animated film, will play Jan. 4-9, 11-16, 18-23, and 25-30 in DPAC‘s brand-new, 2,800-seat, state-of-the-art theater, in the American Tobacco District in downtown Durham, NC.

J. Anthony Crane as Scar and Dionne Randolph as Mufasa face off

J. Anthony Crane as Scar and Dionne Randolph as Mufasa face off

According to Durham Performing Arts Center:

“On stage, [Broadway and tour] director Julie Taymor’s creative vision blends elements of African art and Broadway artisanship to depict anthropomorphic animal characters. The sardonic and deviously cunning ‘Scar’ is played by J. Anthony Crane. Dionne Randolph is ‘Mufasa,’ the great warrior and ruler of the Pridelands. Brenda Mhlongo is the wise baboon shaman ‘Rafiki.’ Tony Freeman portrays the prim and proper hornbilled bird ‘Zazu.’ Ben Lipitz is the carefree warthog ‘Pumbaa,’ and Nick Cordileone is the wisecracking meerkat ‘Timon.’ Mufasa’s son, ‘Simba,’ the lion prince born to be king, is played by Adam Jacobs, and Ta’Rea Campbell is the loyal lioness ‘Nala.’

“The three evil hyenas are played by Omari Tau (‘Banzai’), Monica L. Patton (‘Shenzi’), and Ben Roseberry (‘Ed’). The role of ‘Young Simba’ is alternated between Jerome Stephens, Jr. and Kolton Stewart and the role of ‘Young Nala’ is alternated between Monique Lee and Madai Monica Williams….

“The North American touring production of The Lion King has been seen by over 12.7 million theatergoers and grossed over $834 million to date. Having already played more than 60 cities across North America, The Lion King now proudly makes its Durham premiere at DPAC….”

Disney’s The Lion King made its Broadway debut, produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, directed by Julie Taymor, and choreographed by Garth Fagan, on Nov. 13, 1997 at the New Amsterdam Theatre and, in June 2006, transferred to the Minskoff Theatre, where it is still playing, having racked up a combined total of 5,453 performances as of January 2, 2011.

The Lion King made its Triangle premiere on Sept. 15, 2006 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, as part of Broadway Series South. It subsequently ran Tuesday-Sunday through Oct. 22, 2006.

The wise baboon shaman Rafiki (played by Brenda Mhlongo) lives in the Tree of Life

The wise baboon shaman Rafiki (played by Brenda Mhlongo) lives in the Tree of Life

The Durham Performing Arts Center adds:

“As it begins its 14th year [on Broadway], The Lion King remains ascendant, continuing to reign as a cultural phenomenon and one of the most popular stage musicals in the world. Since its 1997 Broadway premiere, 17 global productions have been seen by more than 54 million people, and grossed over $4.2 billion to date. Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), The Lion King is the eighth longest-running musical in Broadway history and one of only five productions in theater history to play for 10 years or more, both on Broadway and in [London’s] West End.

“Translated into five different languages (Japanese, German, Korean, French, [and] Dutch), the show has been performed in 13 different countries on five continents. The Lion King can currently be seen on Broadway (its flagship production), on stages across North America, and in Las Vegas, London’s West End, Hamburg, and Tokyo. In March of 2011, an all-new production [debuted] in Singapore.

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, making Taymor the first woman in theatrical history bestowed with the honor. The Lion King has also earned more than 70 major arts awards including the 1998 N.Y. 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.

“[Director Julie] Taymor [and] designer Michael Curry [have] created hundreds of masks and puppets for The Lion King. The book has been adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed The Lion King animated feature, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay. Other members of the creative team include: Steve Canyon Kennedy (sound design), Michael Ward (hair and makeup design), John Stefaniuk (associate director), Marey Griffith (associate choreographer), [and] Clement Ishmael (music supervisor). Anne Quart serves as associate producer.

“The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rice’s music from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice; additional musical material by South African 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 resulting sound of The Lion King is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, ranging from the Academy Award®-winning song ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ to the haunting ballad ‘Shadowland.'”

SECOND OPINION: Jan. 4th Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Katelyn Ferral:; and Jan. 2nd Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: and Dec. 30th preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: (Note: You must register first to read this article).

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents DISNEY’S THE LION KING at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4-6, 8 p.m. Jan. 7, 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 8, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11-13 and 18-20, 8 p.m. Jan. 14 and 21, 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 15 and 22, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 16 and 23, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27, 8 p.m. Jan. 28, 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 29, 1 p.m. Jan. 30, at DPAC, in the American Tobacco District, at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.

TICKETS: $25-$100 , except $22 Student Rush Tickets sold at DPAC Ticket Center to students with ID.


DPAC Box Office: 919/680-ARTS (2787),, or

Ticketmaster: 800/745-3000, 919/834-4000, or

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587,, or









NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh ( will sign-language-interpret the 2 p.m. Jan. 15th performance, and audio describe 1 p.m. Jan. 26th performance.


The Film: (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment), (Wikipedia), and (Internet Movie Database).

The Musical: (official web page) and (Wikipedia),

The Broadway Show: (official web page) and (Internet Broadway Database).

The Tour: (official web page).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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