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The Lion King announces Stephenson Ardern-Sodje will lead tour cast

The bestselling musical is back on tour

Stephenson Ardern-Sodje
© Disney

The touring cast for Disney's smash-hit production of The Lion King has been revealed.

Stephenson Ardern-Sodje will be leading the company as Simba when the show kickstarts its tour once more in December in Dublin.

Ardern-Sodje had an unusual trajectory to his starring role – he initially worked in the story room at Coronation Street while also being attached to Idris Elba's production company Green Door Pictures. He was then cast in Hamilton when it opened at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 2017, and is currently part of Shakespeare's Globe's touring company.

He told WhatsOnStage: "I am so excited to join Disney's The Lion King UK and Ireland tour as Simba this December. Growing up, Simba was one of the first characters I saw myself represented by on stage, and to be able to continue that legacy in theatres around the UK, is a dream come true. Playing one of the most recognisable characters around the world, in a show as iconic as The Lion King, has really surpassed my wildest dreams."

The touring company will also feature Nokwanda Khuzwayo as Nala, after she played the role in Germany and Brazil. Ireland's Alan McHale will be returning in a new role as Timon with Cardiff born newcomer Owain Rhys Davies taking the role of Ed.

They will join returning principals Matthew Forbes as Zazu, Jean-Luc Guizonne as Mufasa, Richard Hurst as Scar, Rebecca Omogbehin as Shenzi, Thandazile Soni as Rafiki, Carl Sanderson as Pumbaa and Simon Trinder as Banzai.

You can see the full company here.

Julie Taymor's production, based on the animated classic of the same name, features scenic design by Richard Hudson and lighting by Donald Holder.

Costume design is by Taymor, and choreography by Garth Fagan. The book was adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated feature and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the screenplay. Additional creatives are to be confirmed.

After opening in Dublin (23 December 2021 to 4 February 2022), the show will visit Bristol (17 February to 19 March), Bradford (24 March to 28 May), Cardiff (7 July to 27 August), Southampton (8 September to 15 October) and Manchester (27 October to 24 December). Further dates are to be announced.

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