It has been over 18 months since Disney's Thomas Schumacher announced Australia's 2013-2014 return season of The Lion King. After much speculation and a hefty audition process in Australia and New Zealand, the full cast has now been confirmed.
Set to open at the Capitol Theatre Sydney on December 12, the cast of this 16 year old musical favourite features some of the brightest emerging talent found from over 4000 submissions in Australia and New Zealand.
Of the 1860 performers who made it to the live auditions, 34 were selected for ensemble positions, 11 for the principal roles and 8 young performers will share the roles of young Simba and young Nala.
“In casting the show, our task from [director] Julie Taymor was to find a diverse and exciting group of performers who uniquely reflect the cultural influences of our country and our region” said Executive Producer James Thane.
“After nine months of intensive searching, we’re thrilled to have found the perfect combination of singers, dancers and actors to fulfil Julie’s brief.”
Heading the principal cast is exciting new discovery Rob Collins in the pivotal role of Mufasa. Born and raised in Darwin, Rob has helped coordinate the National Indigenous Music Awards since its inception in 2004.
Rob will be joined by 2013 Helpmann Award winning actor (The Addams Family) Russell Dykstra as Pumbaa, popular television and theatre performer Josh Quong Tart as Scar, well-known theatre actor Cameron Goodall as Zazu and the charismatic New Zealand performer Jamie McGregor as Timon.
Returning to the production as Rafiki, a role she performed in the original Australian production and on five continents since, will be Buyi Zama. The much-loved role of Simba will be played by New Zealander Nick Afoa, a keen rugby player and singer who made his mark singing the national anthem at the recent Rugby World Cup in Australia.
Rounding out the principal cast are the relative newcomers, Josslynn Hlenti as Nala, with Ruvarashe Ngwenya, Terry Yeboah and Andre Jewson as the Hyenas Shenzi, Banzai and Ed.
Rehearsals commence in October and the full ensemble listed below will be donning the masks, mastering the puppetry and learning to bring this magical production to life:
Bernard Angel, Caleb Bartolo, Laurence Creevey, Ed Deganos, Akina Edmonds, Jabulani Gambu, Sandile Gontsana, Mietta Gornall, Graeme Isaako, Jacqueline Ison, Sophia Laryea, Sharon Lee, Dikeldi Letebele, Nicolas Li, Loredo Malcolm, Gabisile Manana, Lee Morunga, Buti Mothamaha, Zoe Mthiyane, Lungelo Ndlovu, Matu Ngaropo, Max Oliveira, Diana Ricks, Joseph Rivera, Anica Scott-Garrell, Pamela Sidhu, Noluthando Sithole, Toni Stewart, Rebecca Tapia, Jason Te Patu, Jeffrey Trinidad, Benn Welford, Joshua Williams and Wei Wei Zhang.
The role of Young Simba will be shared by Jasper James Lloyd, Joshua Park, Adrian Pulvirenti and Ethan Puse and Young Nala by Ruby Alexander, Ayanda Dladla, Ariana Haghighi and Sabrina Sialeipata.
When this new Australian production of The Lion King opens in December 2013, it will become the 10th concurrent worldwide production of the $5 billion grossing musical, setting a new record for the highest number of productions running at any one time in the show’s history.