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The Lion King: Tiny Desk Concert

Actors and musicians on Broadway have a grueling performance schedule: eight shows a week with only Mondays off. Yet the band and cast of The Lion King were ecstatic to spend their one free day traveling from New York to Washington, D.C. to celebrate 25 years of the iconic musical with a performance at NPR's Tiny Desk.

Many of the songs written by Elton John and Tim Rice will be familiar — like the Oscar-winning "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and "Hakuna Matata." But the cast also treated the enthusiastic Tiny Desk crowd to songs written just for the stage. "They Live In You" wasn't in the original movie, but is sung in the show by Mufasa (L. Steven Taylor) to his cub Simba (Brandon A. McCall). The young lioness Nala sings "Shadowland'', another gem from the musical sung by Pearl Khwezi (the first South African cast in the role).

Infused throughout the music of The Lion King is spine-tingling African rhythm and language. It's as captivating as the groundbreaking costume design by director, co-writer and artist Julie Taymor. The team at Disney Theatrical sent the masks of Simba and Nala in time to be prominently displayed on the desk during the concert. Examining their details up close gave me chills — just like the ones I felt watching the show at the New Amsterdam Theatre, way back in 1997 when the musical first debuted.


  • "Circle of Life"
  • "They Live in You"
  • "Can You Feel the Love Tonight"
  • "Hakuna Matata"
  • "Endless Night / Shadowland"
  • "Circle of Life" (Reprise)


  • L. Steven Taylor
  • Tshidi Manye
  • Brandon A. McCall
  • Pearl Khwezi
  • Lindiwe Dlamini
  • Mduduzi Madela
  • S'bu Ngema

  • Jim Abbott: keyboard, guitar
  • Anders Bostrom: flutes
  • David Kuhn: bass
  • Rolando Morales-Matos: percussion
  • Juan Carlito Mendoza: drums
  • Music Arrangements

  • Jim Abbott
  • The Lion King Broadway Resident Director

  • Rufus Bonds Jr.

  • Producer/Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin 
  • Director/Editor: Kara Frame 
  • Creative Director: Bob Boilen 
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Sofia Seidel
  • Animator: Jackie Lay
  • Audio Assistant: Natasha Branch
  • Production Assistant: Jill Britton
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Marissa Lorusso, Hazel Cills, Ashley Pointer, Teresa Xie
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Josh Rogosin (he/him) stumbled into NPR HQ in 1999 on his way to mixing shows at The Shakespeare Theatre in downtown DC. Since then, he has been at the controls for all of NPR's flagship newsmagazines and gathered sound in far flung places like Togo and Benin, West Africa, Cambodia and Greece for the Radio Expeditions series. He has engineered at NPR West and NPR NY and spent two years as Technical Director at Marketplace Productions in Los Angeles. He served as Senior Broadcast Engineer for New York Public Radio and Studio 360, and was an originating producer and sound designer for NPR's Ask Me Another.

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