Welcome to Jim Hill Media - Entertainment News : Theme Parks Movies Television

Broadway audiences roar as Whoopi Goldberg joins the cast of Disney’s “The Lion King”

Jim Hill

Jim's musings on the history of and rumors about movies, TV shows, books and theme parks including Disneyland, Walt Disney World. Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Broadway audiences roar as Whoopi Goldberg joins the cast of Disney’s “The Lion King”

Rate This
  • Comments 0
The juggernaut that is Disney’s “The Lion King” just rolls on and on and on.

The stage musical version of this Academy Award-winning animated feature isn’t just one of the most popular shows on Broadway. It’s now one of the most beloved pieces of entertainment in the world.

Want proof? Then let’s take a trip to the City of Love. Where this past Wednesday night, the Parisian production of “The Lion King” welcomed its one millionth guest, Caroline Buziaux of Lille, France. Balloons rained down inside the Mogador Theatre as the cast gathered onstage with Caroline to celebrate this milestone.

And as if this evening wasn't already pretty spectacular for Ms. Buziaux, as she stood on stage in front of all those photographer, Caroline's longtime boyfriend Anthony Kaluza asked for her hand in marriage. Talk about being able to " ... Feel the Love Tonight."

The cast of the Lion King on stage, including Whohppi Goldberg
Caroline Buziaux joins the cast of the Parisian production of Disney's "The Lion
King" onstage at the Mogador Theatre for their big milestone.

Copyright 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Of course, not every production of Disney's "The Lion King" can liven things up with an onstage spontaneous engagement. And when you’re in a Tony Award-winning show that’s been seen by over 50 million people in 13 different countries ... Well, it's kind of easy to become blasé. Take for granted that you’re in one of only five musical productions in theatre history that have played for ten years or more on both Broadway and the West End.

Which is why the folks at Disney Theatrical decided to do something unusual to energize & surprise both the cast & the audience at the Minskoff Theatre. Which is why they invited Whoopi Goldberg, the moderator of ABC’s “The View” to appear in the Broadway version of “The Lion King.” To be specific, to have this Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner – for one night only – would periodically pop up in a series of cameos over the course of this show.

And being the trooper that she is, Whoopi agreed to this stunt. Partially because Goldberg got her start on the legitimate stage back in 1984 with her acclaimed one woman show. But also because of her ties to the animated version of "The Lion King" (Whoopi originated the voice of Shenzi the Hyena for this Rob Minkoff / Roger Allers film).

Mind you, doing a voice for an animated hyena is significantly different than playing a hyena on stage. There were (obviously) rehearsals …

Whoopi Goldberg rehearsing for her rold of Shenzi the Hyena in Disney's "The Lion King"
Whoopi Goldberg rehearses for her cameo performance
as Shenzi the Hyena in Disney’s “The Lion King.”
Photo by Steve Fenn. Copyright 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Not just for Goldberg’s bit in “Be Prepared.” But also for the role that Whoopi would be playing in the show’s big opening number, “The Circle of Life.”

Whoopi Goldberg preps to play the Bird Lady in "The Lion King"'s opening number
Goldberg preps to play the Bird Lady in “The Lion King” ‘s opening number.
Photo by Steve Fenn. Copyright 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Not to mention getting some hang time time on that vine that Goldberg would be using to make her big entrance in this stage musical’s second act showpiece, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”

Whoopi swings from the wings on the set of Disney's "The Lion King"
Whoopi swings in from the wings at the Minskoff Theatre.
Photo by Steve Fenn. Copyright 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Admittedly, Whoopi didn’t get a whole lot of rehearsal time. But that didn’t matter to the audience at the Minskoff on Thursday, January 14th. Who – instead of playing “Where’s Waldo?” that night – wound up playing “Where’s Whoopi” instead as they tried to find this “View” veteran among the dozens of cast members on stage for “The Circle of Life.”

Whoopie Goldberg live on stage during the opening number of Disney's "The Lion King" stage musical
Goldberg live on stage during “The Lion King” ‘s opening number.
Photo by Steve Fenn. Copyright 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved

They especially seemed to get a kick out of that moment during the musical’s second act when there were two Rafikis on stage and Simba didn’t quite know which wise old sage to turn to when it came to life-changing advice.

Tshidi Manye, Dashaun Young and Whoopi Goldberg in the Broadway production of Disney's "The Lion King"
(L to R) Tshidi Manye, Dashaun Young and Whoopi Goldberg in the Broadway
production of Disney’s “The Lion King.” Photo by Steve Fenn.
Copyright 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved

At curtain call, Goldberg got a thunderous round of applause both from the audience at the Minskoff as well as the performers on stage.

Whoopi Goldberg as Rafiki make-up takes a bow
Whoopi takes her bow in Rafiki make-up.  Photo by Steve Fenn.
Copyright 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved

She was then joined backstage by Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions, and Julie Taymor, director of Disney’s “The Lion King.” Where they then praised Whoopi for her one-night-only performance.

Thom Schumacher, Whoopi Goldberg and Julie Taymore backstage
Thomas Schumacher, Whoopi Goldberg and Julie Taymor backstage at the Minskoff Theatre.
Photo by Steve Fenn. Copyright 2010 Disney. All Rights Reserved

If you’d like to see how Whoopi did in Disney’s “The Lion King,” keep an eye on “The View.” Which – as part of its Sweeps stunt programming during the month of February – will show footage of Goldberg in costume as she appeared in the show.

My apologies for those of you who came by JHM looking for a Why For today. But – given that I’m traveling out to LA today – that column has been delayed for a day or so. Look for that piece to pop up on this site shortly (i.e. after I get over my jetlag), okay?

Blog - Post Feedback Form
Your comment has been posted.   Close
Thank you, your comment requires moderation so it may take a while to appear.   Close
Leave a Comment
  • * Please enter your name
  • * Please enter a comment
  • Post