THE LION KINGThis Weekend Anniversary performance dedicated to the Tony®-nominated creator of the role of Mufasa, Samuel E. Wright - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Friday, November 12, 2021

THE LION KINGThis Weekend Anniversary performance dedicated to the Tony®-nominated creator of the role of Mufasa, Samuel E. Wright

 Tony®-nominated creator of the role of Mufasa, Samuel E. Wright

The Lion King will celebrate its 24th anniversary on Broadway tomorrow, Saturday, November 13, 2021 — say less. Its hard to believe that his dynamic show opened on November 13, 1997, at the newly-renovated New Amsterdam Theatre and to date has played 9,387 performances (as of today) and entertained more than 15,870,000 guests on Broadway alone.

Thats a lot of great memories tied to this theatrical experience and this anniversary performance is special because it will be dedicated to the memory of the creator of the role of Mufasa in the original 1997 production, Samuel E. Wright, who received a Tony nomination for his performance. 

Wright, who died in May of this year, was a beloved member of the Lion King family over its 24-year history and enjoyed a nearly 30-year Broadway career, appearing in the original casts of Two Gentlemen of Verona, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Tap Dance Kid (Tony nomination), and starring as The Leading Player in the original run of Pippin. In his busy film and television career, Wright is best known for voicing the role of Sebastian in the animated classic The Little Mermaid.  


The marquees of The Lion Kings two Broadway homes, The New Amsterdam and Minskoff Theatres, will be dimmed in Wrights honor the evening of November 13th.

I bow my head along with the others as we show our respect  Samuel E. Wright.

The Lion King has been performed over its lifetime in nine different languages (English, Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin, and Portuguese), by the end of 2021, there will be ten productions of The Lion King around the world, including Broadway, London, Paris, Hamburg, Tokyo, Madrid, on tour across North America, Japan, and the U.K. & Ireland, with a separate production touring internationally. Having played over 100 cities in 21 countries on every continent except Antarctica, The Lion Kings worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show, or other entertainment titles 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 Lion King 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 shows director, costume designer, and mask co-designer Julie Taymor continues to play an integral part in the shows ongoing success. The first woman to win a Tony Award for Direction of a Musical, Taymor continues to supervise new productions of the show around the world.


The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rices songs from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice; additional musical material by South African Lebo MMark MancinaJay RifkinJulie 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 Lebo Ms rich choral numbers.


Elton John, Lebo M, and Hans Zimmer all collaborated on the 2019 version of the film, executive produced by Julie Taymor and Thomas Schumacher, which has gone onto extraordinary worldwide success.


The book has been adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated The Lion King feature, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the films screenplay. Other members of the creative team include Michael Curry, who designed the masks and puppets with Taymor, Steve Canyon Kennedy (sound design), Michael Ward (hair and makeup design), Anthony Lyn (associate director), Marey Griffith (associate choreographer), Clement Ishmael (music supervisor), Doc Zorthian (production supervisor) and Binder Casting/Mark Brandon, CSA (casting). Anne Quart serves as co-producer.


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