who played the older Simba in the original
company of "The Lion King," has died at 28.
Raize died Feb. 3 in Yass, Australia,
southwest of Sydney, according to
Chris Boneau, a spokesman for the Disney
musical. The cause was
suicide, Boneau said.
Raize was chosen for the role of Simba, who
changes from a callow young
lion to the aware adult played by Raize,
after a series of grueling
auditions for "Lion King" director Julie
Taymor and choreographer Garth
The musical, based on Disney's successful
animated film, opened at the
New Amsterdam Theatre in November 1997 and
is still running in New York
and around the world. Raize played the part
for nearly three years.
The competition for the role of Simba was
fierce because the musical
required "triple-threat work -- singing,
dancing and acting -- that you
don't get to such an extent in other shows,"
Raize recalled in a 1997
interview with The Associated Press. "It was
more the sense of who can
take the challenge and not be daunted by the
Asked to compare the stage and film
versions, Raize said he took a look
at the film "to see the gaps that Julie has
filled in. She has done a
terrific job of creating a richer, even more
In 2003, Raize was the voice of an Ice Age
boy in the Disney animated
movie "Brother Bear."
Raize, from Oneonta, N.Y., worked there
while in high school at the
Orpheus Theater, a semiprofessional troupe.
Raize performed in a
variety of shows including a "Jesus Christ
Superstar" tour with Ted
Neeley and later a "King and I" tour
starring Hayley Mills.
Raize is survived by his father and
stepmother, Robert and Monet
Rothenberg, of Oneonta, N.Y.; and his
mother, Sarah MacArthur of