LAS VEGAS, NV--(Marketwire - May 18, 2009) - Disney's award-winning Broadway phenomenon, THE LION KING, celebrated its Las Vegas premiere at Mandalay Bay Theatre Friday evening. Several members of the original creative team were in attendance to launch the show, including director/creator Julie Taymor; book writers Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi; choreographer Garth Fagan; scene designer Richard Hudson; and Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Group.

THE LION KING at Mandalay Bay joins the seven other highly successful companies of THE LION KING currently running all over the world, including New York, London, Hamburg, Paris, Tokyo and Fukuoka, as well as the North American National Tour. The show is performed Monday through Thursday evenings at 8 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 4 p.m.

Mandalay Bay's production of THE LION KING is virtually identical to the other companies seen around the globe and is staged with all of the same spectacular music, sets, and costumes that have made it a worldwide phenomenon, reaching more than 45 million people in 11 countries.

"The Las Vegas production is every bit the equal of the spectacular Broadway experience," said Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Group. "From the stunning procession of animals that fill the aisles during 'Circle of Life' and the wildebeest stampede to the show's climactic battle, all of the magic of the original vision will be realized onstage at Mandalay Bay."

"Mandalay Bay is known for offering its guests exciting and spectacular entertainment options," said Bill Hornbuckle, president and chief operating officer of Mandalay Bay. "The addition of THE LION KING, one of the most successful production shows in history, continues this tradition. We are certain THE LION KING's international appeal will be embraced by Las Vegas locals and visitors alike."

For Las Vegas, Disney hand-selected an international cast of performers who have won acclaim in productions of THE LION KING across the globe, including Broadway, Taipei, South Africa, London, Los Angeles, Australia, Toronto, Shanghai, Paris and Holland.

The malevolent "Scar" is played by Thom Sesma, whose credits include "The Times They Are A-Changin'," "The Man of La Mancha" and "La Cage Aux Folles" on Broadway. Alton F. White plays the lion king "Mufasa." Mr. White's credits include THE LION KING's Broadway company, "Ragtime," "Tommy," "The Color Purple" and "Miss Saigon" on Broadway. Buyi Zama, a native of South Africa, is the wise "Rafiki." Ms. Zama has performed in seven productions of THE LION KING, including London, Sydney, Melbourne, Shanghai, South Africa, Taipei and the national tour; her credits also include backing as a vocalist for artists such as Whitney Houston and Rebecca Malope.

Kissy Simmons, a native of Floral City, FL, is the lioness, "Nala." She joins the Las Vegas cast from the Broadway production of THE LION KING and previously performed in the national tour. Mufasa's son, "Simba," is played by Clifton Oliver, who is an alumnus of Douglas Anderson School of Arts and has numerous theatre credits including featured roles in THE LION KING's Los Angeles production and national tour, in addition to "Grease," "Rent" and "Wicked" on Broadway.

The meerkat "Timon" is played by Damian Baldet, who has appeared in THE LION KING's national tour in addition to productions of "Frankenstein," "Attempts on Her Life," "The Rats Are Getting Bigger" and "Gone Missing." Patrick Kerr, who portrays "Zazu," appeared as KACL's Noel on "Frasier" and recently performed in "The Ritz" on Broadway. Adam Kozlowski portrays "Pumbaa" the warthog and has appeared in "Scrooge" the musical on national tour.

The three hyenas are played by Keith Bennett ("Banzai"), an original cast member of THE LION KING, whose additional credits include the Broadway productions of "Oh, Kay!" and "The High Rollers Social and Pleasure Club"; Jacquie Hodges ("Shenzi"), who has performed off Broadway in "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide" and in the national tours of THE LION KING and "Aida"; and Robbie Swift ("Ed"), acting graduate from The Theatre School at DePaul University, who toured nationally with THE LION KING and recently played "Linus" in the West Coast premiere of "Snoopy."

Performances in the role of "Young Simba" are alternated between Duane Ervin and Elijah Johnson. The role of "Young Nala" is alternated between Ruby Crawford and Jade Nelson.

The cast includes nine South African natives; and two ensemble members, Joseph Rivera and Renata Renee Wilson, from Las Vegas.

Tickets for Disney's THE LION KING at Mandalay Bay are available for $53, $86 and $113.50. VIP packages, which include premium seating, a complimentary souvenir program and a complimentary VIP show merchandise item, are available for $168.50. Taxes are included in all prices. Tickets can be purchased at all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations; through the box office at (702) 632-7580 or Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000; and online via or Reservations for groups of 15 or more can be purchased through (877) 632-7505 or


"THE LION KING" continues to reign as one of the most popular shows in the world. It is the winner of six Tony® Awards including Best Musical, eight Drama Desk Awards, six Outer Critics Circle Awards, the New York Drama Critics award for Best Musical, the Evening Standard Award for the Theatrical Event of the Year, two Olivier Awards, a Theatre World Award, the Astaire Award for Outstanding Choreography, two Drama League Awards and a Grammy® Award for Best Musical Show Album.

Director Julie Taymor became the first woman in Broadway history to win the Tony® Award for Best Director of a Musical. Taymor, along with Michael Curry, created hundreds of masks and puppets for THE LION KING. Choreography is by Garth Fagan, scenic design is by Richard Hudson, costume design is by Julie Taymor and lighting design is by Donald Holder.

The book was adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated film, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the screenplay for THE LION KING. The Las Vegas score features Elton John and Tim Rice's music from the animated film along with two new songs by John and Rice, and additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer. The resulting sound of "THE LION KING" score is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, embracing the Academy Award®-winning "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" and the haunting "Shadowlands."

DISNEY THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS (DTP), a division of Disney Theatrical Group, operates under the direction of Thomas Schumacher and is among the world's most successful commercial theatre enterprises. Reaching a global annual audience of more than 10 million people in over 40 countries, DTP produces and licenses Broadway musicals around the world including Grammy®, Tony® and Olivier-award winning "The Lion King," "Beauty and the Beast," Elton John & Tim Rice's "Aida," "TARZAN®" and "Mary Poppins," a co-production by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh which is about to launch its national touring engagement. Its most recent Broadway production, "The Little Mermaid," debuted in 2007 and immediately became a Broadway sensation. That same year, DTP launched the professional touring stage version of Disney's "High School Musical." In addition, DTP licenses musical titles for local schools and community productions through Music Theatre International and on its recently launched website,

Disney Theatrical Group also delivers live entertainment around the world through its partnership with Feld Entertainment, producer of Disney on Ice and Disney LIVE!, including High School Musical: The Ice Tour and Playhouse Disney Live!


Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino is a AAA Four Diamond Award-winning destination resort set on 60 lush acres and offers 3,635 newly remodeled rooms and suites, including 424 accommodations managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Mandalay Bay Beach, an 11-acre tropical pool environment, features real California sand, a wave pool and the only climate-controlled poolside gaming in the city. The property also features the 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay Events Center, award-winning restaurants, Shark Reef Aquarium and the 1.5-million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center -- the largest convention center on the Las Vegas Strip. Mandalay Bay's brands include THEhotel, an all-suite hotel featuring 1,117 luxurious one-bedroom suites, the BATHHOUSE Spa, and Mandalay Place, a collection of unique boutiques and restaurants. Mandalay Bay is a wholly owned subsidiary of MGM MIRAGE™ (NYSE: MGM). For more information and reservations, visit the Web site at, or call toll free at (877) 632-7000.

Contact Information: For more information: Natalie Mounier Tiffany Hauck Kirvin Doak Communications (702) 737-3100 Erin Randell MGM MIRAGE Public Relations (702) 650-7562