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Producers of the long running hit Disney musical The Lion King have announced that New Zealander Nicholas Afoa will join the cast of the West End production in the role of 'Simba' from 10 May 2016 at the Lyceum Theatre in London.
Afoa made his stage debut as 'Simba' in the Australian production of the show back in 2013 and performed the role more than 860 times between 2013 and 2016. His move to London will mark his second professional stage role, and brings him to the city for the very first time.
After beginning a rugby career with the 'All Blacks', Afoa was sidelined by injury and nearly a decade later beat 400 other hopefuls to the role of Simba in the Australian production.
He will join other new cast members from 10 May 2016, including Etian Almeida, Jonathan Andre, Janique Charles, Zinhle Dube, Sandile Gontsana, Kwesi Jeffers, Stephanie Lo, Sadia McEwen, Khaya Maseko, Daniel Monteiro, Nosipho Nkonqa, Dominique Planter, Antoine Murray-Straughan, Kayode Salina and Ricardo Walker.
The Lion King opened in the West End's Lyceum Theatre on 19 Oct 1999, following previews from 24 Sep 1999, to good notices from the popular press. It is currently the sixth longest running musical in West End history, and recently embarked on its first UK tour, which has been seen by over 1.8 million people. To date the show has played 19 countries on every continent except Antarctica.
This year the show will celebrate its 17th anniversary in London's West End and it has been seen by over 12 million theatregoers, playing to around 810,000 guests each year. Last year it was announced that its worldwide gross exceeds that of any film or entertainment title in box office history. It is currently booking at the Lyceum Theatre to 2 October 2016.
The Lion King has a book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi, songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, with additional songs by Lebo M, Julie Taymor, Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer. It is directed by Julie Taymor, designed by Richard Hudson, lighting by Donald Holder with choreography by Garth Fagan.
Based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name, the musical follows the young lion prince Simba, whose birth results in his evil uncle Scar being pushed back to second in line to the throne. Scar plots to kill both Simba and his father, Mufasa, and proclaim himself king. Simba survives but is led to believe that his father died because of him and he decides to flee the kingdom.
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