Monday, October 19, 2009

Elijah Johnson's Vegas Finale

Last night, Elijah Johnson and Ruby Crawford became the first members of "The Lion King" cast to leave since the show premiered at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas earlier this year. Elijah was one of two to play Young Simba and Ruby was one of two to play Young Nala. And, of course, Elijah was the breakout star of "Las Vegas Celebrates The Music of Michael Jackson," the benefit show at the Palms that I co-produced. If you don't remember, here's that YouTube clip:

So here's Elijah and Ruby acknowledging the band as they take final bows:

Elijah Johnson, breakout star of the mj benefit, takes his fi... on Twitpic

In both cases, the kids have outgrown their roles. Elijah and his dad, on "The Strip" in September, said the contract dictated he could not grow more than 2 inches!

Elijah is signing a development deal with Gavin Maloof and his family that hopefully will result in grander exposure. He's also been auditioning for a litany of Disney-related TV shows and has had a number of callbacks. I didn't know much about Ruby before yesterday, but she's already been in "The Color Purple" on Broadway and played Jennifer Hudson's little sister in the "Sex and The City" film. So I sense they'll both do well.

They had a potluck party between shows that I attended thanks to Elijah's dad, Carlton.

What's "dirt"? We didn't have that at potlucks on Long Island.

Anyhow, the kids seemed to be in pretty good spirits. Here's one of Ruby and Elijah with the other Young Simba, Dwayne Asante Ervin in the kids' dressing room...

...and one of Elijah in the makeup room...

|...and one of me with Elijah:

Ruby and Elijah's last show was the 4 p.m., which I understand was about 80 percent full. (A friend who accompanied me was able to buy a ticket in the $86 section for half price because he was a local, by the by.)

The rest of the actors had an 8 p.m. performance, too, so the ate in makeup:

That last one's Thom Sesma who plays the evil brother Scar. My second reason for going back to see TLK was to figure out which performer I'd want to bring on to my Las Vegas One segment soon. Sesma seems to fit the bill as he's both an experienced actor (Miss Saigon, "Law and Order") and he's in TLK from beginning to end whereas other major characters' roles are shared as they age.

Of course, being back stage I couldn't resist some fun shots of the goings-on. Here is actress Jade Milan, who also plays Young Nala, getting made up for the 8 p.m. show.

And there were some costumes around, of course...

I wanted to shoot some of the backstage scenery but I was asked not to by the stage manager. Oh well. It's pretty cool to see, though.

I did find it odd that someone had a "congratulations" cookie made for the two actors who had just become unemployed:

Perhaps it was one of those mistakes, like when my sister sent me a birthday fruit basket with the following balloons:

My sister, @elynnemarleo, sent me this lovely fruit basket, b... on Twitpic

Anyhow, Sunday was actually a busy day for Michael Jackson tribute show alums. My co-producer, Erich Bergen, returned to Vegas to pack up his home as he, of course, left "Jersey Boys" and is in the middle of shooting three episodes of "Gossip Girl." And one of the Frankie Valli actors from "Jersey Boys," Travis Cloer, made a cameo at Zowie Bowie's "Vintage Vegas" show at the Monte Carlo.

But, of course, there was only one more chance to see this...

...and I'm glad I did. I can't wait to see what becomes of both young talents.