On this day in 1997, Disney's Broadway musical The Lion King (based on the 1994 hit animated feature) had its official debut at the New Amsterdam Theater. Having had its world premiere in Minneapolis in July 1997, the New York City version now performs at Broadway's Minskoff Theater (as of June 2006).
The opening night cast included: Kevin Cahoon as Ed, Max Casella as Timon, Tracy Nicole Chapman as Shenzi, Heather Headley as Nala, Geoff Hoyle as Zazu, Scott Irby-Ranniar as Young Simba, Tsidii Le Loka as Rafiki, Stanley Wayne Mathis as Banzai, Jason Raize as Simba, Tom Alan Robbins as Pumbaa, Kajuana Shuford as Young Nala, John Vickery as Scar, and Samuel E Wright as Mufasa.
The stage version incorporated several changes and additions to the storyline as compared to the animated film. The mandrill Rafiki's gender was changed to a female role, because there wasn't a leading female character in the film. Several new scenes were added, including a conversation between Mufasa and Zazu about whether Mufasa is raising Simba correctly, and a perilous scene where Timon finds himself nearly drowning in a waterfall while Simba feels powerless to help him.
In 1998 The Lion King won a Tony Award for Best Musical and several Drama Desk Awards.
Discover more Disney history for November 13 HERE.