Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: Thom Sesma as Scar in The Lion King at Mandalay Bay

Thom Sesma as “Scar” in THE LION KING Las Vegas.  ©2009, Disney.  Photo Credit:  Joan Marcus.

Thom Sesma as “Scar” in THE LION KING Las Vegas. ©2009, Disney. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

Broadway veteran Thom Sesma is evil personified as the villainous and malevolent “Scar” in DISNEY’S THE LION KING, currently in previews at the Mandalay Bay Theatre in Las Vegas. Based on the 1994 animated film of the same name, The Lion King bowed on Broadway in November 1997, directed by Julie Taymor with choreography by Garth Fagan. It features a score by Elton John and Tim Rice, with additional music and lyrics by a variety of artists, and a book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi. The show won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, as well as the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.

Thom Sesma (Photo by Lia Chang)

Thom Sesma (Photo by Lia Chang)

When the Las Vegas production of THE LION KING celebrates its official opening May 15, it will  join seven other wildly successful companies of THE LION KING currently running around the world, including New York, London, Hamburg, Paris, Tokyo and Fukuoka, as well as the North American National Tour.

Ever the chameleon, the versatile Sesma is equally at home in the musical theater as well as on the legit stage.  This month he’ll receive The Enquirer Acclaim Award, which celebrates the best of Cincinnati theatre, for his turn as a frustrated Korean immigrant widower in the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s production of Julia Cho’s Durango which opened the 2008 fall season last September.

(l-r) Peter Kim portrays Isaac Lee, Andrew Cristi is Jimmy Lee and Thom Sesma is Boo-Seng Lee in the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

(l-r) Peter Kim portrays Isaac Lee, Andrew Cristi is Jimmy Lee and Thom Sesma is Boo-Seng Lee in Julia Cho's Durango at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, September, 2008. Photo by Sandy Underwood.

In the Twyla Tharp-Bob Dylan Broadway Musical The Times They Are A-Changin', Sesma played the sadistic whip wielding Captain Ahrab. Backstage in his dressing room at the Brooks Atkinson Theater in New York on November 14, 2006. Photo by Lia Chang
In the Twyla Tharp-Bob Dylan Broadway Musical The Times They Are A-Changin’, Sesma played the sadistic whip wielding Captain Ahrab. Backstage in his dressing room at the Brooks Atkinson Theater in New York on November 14, 2006. Photo by Lia Chang

Last seen on Broadway as the seductive powerhouse Captain Ahrab wielding a whip in The Times They are A-Changin’, Sesma has been on and off Broadway and on tour in Miss Saigon, Titanic, Search and Destroy, Man of La Mancha, Cymbeline, Rashomon, Baba Goya, In a Pig’s  Valise, As Thousands Cheer, Othello, Ivanov, Howard Barker’s A Hard Heart, playing opposite Kathleen Chalfant and starring opposite Charles Busch in Shanghai Moon.

Kathleen Chalfant and Thom Sesma in The Epic Theatre’s production of Howard Barker’s A Hard Heart in New York, December 2007. Photo by Lia Chang

Kathleen Chalfant and Thom Sesma in The Epic Theatre’s production of Howard Barker’s A Hard Heart in New York, December 2007. Photo by Lia Chang

His guest roles on television and on film include Canterbury’s Law, Third Watch, Law & Order, Whoopi, Trinity, When I Grow Up, Mambo Kings and Molly Dodd.
Charles Busch and Thom Sesma in Shanghai Moon at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor on June 7, 2008. Photo by Lia Chang

Charles Busch and Thom Sesma in Shanghai Moon at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor on June 7, 2008. Photo by Lia Chang

THE LION KING cast includes Alton F. White (Mufasa), Clifton Oliver (Simba), Buyi Zama (Rafiki), Kissy Simmons (Nala), Damian Baldet (Timon), Keith Bennett (Banzai), Jacquie Hodges (Shenzi), Patrick Kerr (Zazu), Adam Kozlowski (Pumbaa), Robbie Swift (Ed) and Marvette Williams (Sarabi). The role of Young Simba will be played alternately by Duane Ervin and Elijah Johnson. Ruby Crawford and Jade Nelson will alternate in the role of Young Nala. Ensemble members include Deon Ridley, Joseph Rivera, and Renata Renee Wilson.

Preview performances 8 p.m. Tuesday through May 11 and May 13-14

Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South

$53-$168.50 (702-632-7777)

Preview performance schedule:

May 5, 6, 7, 8: 8 p.m.
May 9: 4 p.m. & 8 p.m.
May 10, 11: 8 p.m.
May 12: Dark
May 13, 14: 8 p.m.

Official opening: May 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Post-opening schedule:
Monday through Thursday: 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
No performances on Fridays
For more information, visit www.mandalaybay.com or DisneyMusicals.com.

Related Articles:
Thom Sesma, Peter Kim, Andrew Cristi Star in Durango
Spotlight on Shanghai Moon’s Thom Sesma
Port of Entry:  The Angel Island Immigration Station

Lia Chang © Tami Chang

Lia Chang © Tami Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer and an award-winning multimedia journalist. Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, VIBE, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog. As a photographer and videographer, Lia is frequently tapped to collaborate with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden.

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