Ray Mercer of The Lion King on Broadway

by MouseStation Crew, staff writer

MouseStation 261 - Ray Mercer of The Lion King on Broadway

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Show run time 0:42:56

This week, Mark and Mike talk to Ray Mercer, a cast member in Broadway's The Lion King. We also have some listener feedback and an announcement about a chance for you to beam up to the MouseStation with us.

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Thanks to our sponsor

Today's show is sponsored by Advantage Vacation Homes, a great vacation home rental company that gives you a place to stay with lots more space than a regular hotel room for a lot less money.

Remember, if you're planning a trip with a large number of people, a multiple-bedroom vacation home can be a lot cheaper than multiple hotel rooms.

For more information on what a vacation home is and what to expect when renting one, check out our interview of Fred Zorayq from Advantage Vacation Homes in Episode 219!

Feature: Ray Mercer of The Lion King on Broadway

This week, Mark and Mike talk to Ray Mercer, a member of the cast of The Lion King on Broadway who is also very involved with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a cause that Mike is raising money for again this year through the Gypsy of the Year campaign.

Ray got started in the theater through dance, starting in community theaters in Omaha, Nebraska, then in Chicago and Detroit, and got his first big break by making it into the touring cast of The Lion King in 2003 before being asked to join the Broadway cast in February 2005. His audition for The Lion King in Chicago had 100-150 guys trying out, and he was the only one hired out of that audition.

When The Lion King moved from the New Amsterdam Theater to the Minskoff Theater in 2006, the show didn't change much, but the theater itself feels a lot more open, rather than the intimacy of the New Amsterdam. Ray is glad that there aren't a long flight of stairs up to the dressing rooms at the Minskoff the way that there are at the New Amsterdam.

Ray enjoyed being part of the touring company of the show, but he's much happier being able to live in one place doing the show on Broadway. Being in the touring company, soon after arriving in each performance city they'd have to be trying to line up housing in the next city, which really felt like being a gypsy.

Ray has 13 costume changes during the show's two hour, forty-five minute running time. He starts out as a giraffe, and also spends time as savannah grass, a hyena and other characters (according to Ray, the grass headpieces really aren't as heavy as they look). Mark had an interesting aside about his son and the giraffes when they saw the show in February 2005. The most technically difficult part for Ray is having to do the tumbling in the show during "Be Prepared" after doing all of the dancing. Ray is strictly ensemble and doesn't understudy any of the principal roles. Most of the understudies are singers, rather than dancers.

Ray has two favorite moments in the show. When Rafiki sings at the opening of the show, it gives him goosebumps. The other moment is when the savannah rises up from the floor during "Grasslands." Mark also threw out the moment when all of the abstract pieces come together to form Mufasa's face.

Mark asked about keeping the energy up while doing eight shows a week, especially on days when they do two shows a day. Ray gets a lot of energy off of the audience, especially the school groups that come in for the matinees. Some days are harder than others, but he's still having a ball.

Broadway Cares

Ray didn't really understand the impact of Broadway Cares until he moved to New York to join the Broadway cast of the show. He has become very active with the group, and has choreographed a number of pieces for them. Back in 2005, he choreographed a duet for himself and Gabriel Croom without knowing what to expect, and they performed it to rave reviews.

Broadway Cares is a way to help other people, and it's a way to provide support for those in need with everything from medical assistance to health insurance. The organization supports several different initiatives, including The AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative, the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, The Actor's Work Program, The Dancer's Resource and Supportive Housing Initiatives.

Mark made a challenge, in response to those who have sent him invitations to join the group World AIDS Day 2008 - Wear A Red Ribbon On Facebook! If listeners donate $500 before December 1, Mark will have a red ribbon as his avatar for World AIDS Day. Mike upped the ante and said that if listeners donate $700, he'll make Nemo his avatar for a whole month. Ray chimed in with an offer to provide a backstage tour for anyone who donates to the campaign. If you are going to be going to see The Lion King on Broadway and you donate to the cause, send us an email and let us know the details of your trip; we'll contact Ray and set you up for your backstage tour.

If you're a DVC member, there's a great deal going on right now. From now through December 23, if you buy a ticket to one of Disney's three Broadway shows, you'll get a second one free (though you'll have to pay some fees, and there's other small print as well). Selected dates from January 6 through March 12 are available. And then, once you've gotten your second ticket free, donate the cost of that second ticket to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS! You can purchase tickets online or call the Disney on Broadway Hotline at 866-870-2717.

What do you think? Let us know by sending us an email or calling our toll-free feedback line (1-866-939-2278)!

Listener Feedback

Paul Gan wrote in to let us know that he listens to the show during his lunch hour at work, and that the recent interviews with the Imagineers were really informative and exciting.

Liana wrote in twice, first to let us know that she was just getting caught up, but that she could confirm that the Fastpass tip from Episode 254 did indeed work. In her second email, she continued the teasing that has been going back and forth between her and Mike most recently also in Episode 254.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

Mike is again joining Broadway Care/Equity Fights AIDS Gypsy of the Year online fundraising campaign. This year, he has aligned himself with The Lion King Gazelle Tour team. For more information or to donate, go to his fundraising page. Note that Mark has said that he wants to change his Facebook avatar to a red ribbon for World AIDS Day as many have urged him, but he'll only do it if Mike hits his $500 goal. Mike upped the ante and said that, if contributions hit $700, he'll change his Facebook avatar to Nemo for an entire month! Ray Mercer has offered to provide a backstage tour to any MouseStation listener who donates to the cause. Please donate now!


We're now on Facebook! Join the MousePlanet and MouseStation groups. You can also become a fan of MousePlanet or the MouseStation. If you join the club and use Pieces of Flair, you can get your MousePlanet and MouseStation flair from Mark (though you have to friend him first).


Registration is now open for MouseFest! You can sign up now, and check out the many meets being hosted by MousePlanet as you plan your trip.

Listener of the Month

If you're interested in joining us aboard the MouseStation as our "Listener of the Month", call the toll-free feedback line at 1-866-939-2278 and tell us what the show featuring your guest appearance would be about. Listen to the show for restrictions.

Wrapping up

We've put together a new listener survey to help us learn more about you and what you like most about this podcast. This one is much more targeted than the old Podtrac survey. Please take a few minutes to fill it out and let us know what you think.

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Thanks to our audio engineer and sound editor Steven Ng.

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