Nick Afoa will play the role of Simba in the touring production of The Lion King which comes to Manchester’s Palace Theatre in October.

Afoa is currently starring in the role in London’s West End, where he has performed as Simba for three years.

New Zealand-born Afoa had a promising rugby career with the All Blacks until he was side-lined by injury. After recovering and dedicating himself to his theatre career, nearly a decade later the 30 year-old beat 400 other hopefuls to the role of Simba in the Australian production, making his debut in 2013.

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The previous tour of Disney’s The Lion King broke attendance records across the nation and the autumn opening of the 2019 tour coincided with The Lion King celebrating 20 years at London’s Lyceum Theatre. Since the UK premiere in 1999, The Lion King has entertained more than 16 million theatregoers and is the sixth longest-running West End musical of all time.

With a cast of more than 50 actors, singers and dancers, the story of The Lion King is miraculously brought to life using masks, puppets and striking costumes to tell the story of Simba’s epic adventures as he struggles to accept the responsibilities of adulthood and becoming king.

Manchester theatre - The Lion King

Manchester theatre – The Lion King

Scenic design is by British designer Richard Hudson and lighting is by Donald Holder. Costume design is by Julie 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.

The original score from the animated film was expanded for the stage and now features 15 musical numbers.  As well as writing completely new songs, South African composer Lebo M created an evocative blend of African rhythms and chorales, with additional material by Julie Taymor and Mark Mancina.

Elton John and Tim Rice have added three new numbers to the five that they wrote for the award-winning score of the animated film.

Julie Taymor’s stage adaption of The Lion King is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher.

When does The Lion King run at Manchester’s Palace Theatre?

The Lion Kind runs at the Palace Theatre Manchester from 22 October 2020 until 31 January 2021.

The Lion King – image courtesy Dewynters Photography and Disney