Pearl Khwezi steps into the role of Nala in the Broadway production of the long-running, Tony-winning The Lion King beginning May 24 at the Minskoff Theatre. The South African native succeeds Adrienne Walker, who played her final performance last month.
Khwezi, who originally joined The Lion King family in the Madrid company in 2016, became part of the Broadway company in 2018, covering the principal roles of Rafiki and Nala.
Since its Broadway premiere November 13, 1997, 25 global productions of The Lion King have been seen by nearly 110 million people. Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), the international hit musical has played over 100 cities in 21 countries on every continent except Antarctica; its worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show, or other entertainment title 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 international hit musical 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 show’s director, costume designer, and mask co-designer, Julie Taymor, was the first woman to win a Tony Award for Direction of a Musical; she continues to supervise new productions of the show around the world.
The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rice’s songs from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs by the pair; additional musical material by Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie 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 book was adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated The Lion King feature, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay.
Other members of the creative team include Michael Curry, who designed the masks and puppets with Taymor, as well as sound designer Steve Canyon Kennedy, hair and makeup designer Michael Ward, associate director John Stefaniuk, associate choreographer Marey Griffith, music supervisor Clement Ishmael, and production supervisor Doc Zorthian. Anne Quart serves as co-producer.