Gareth Saxe's 'Lion King' homecoming

Gareth Saxe, who has long played Scar in Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway, has temporarily joined the national touring production so that he can play the deliciously evil role in his hometown of Denver, where this touring production began in 2001.

Saxe, a graduate of Denver East High School and Colorado College, has performed with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and the DCPA Theatre Company. He grew up watching plays at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, and said doing so while idolizing actors such as Kathleen M. Brady, John Hutton and Jacqueline Antaramian was “close to 95 percent” of the reason he became a professional actor.

Saxe fulfilled a lifelong goal in 2001 when he was cast to play Valvert in the DCPA Theatre Company’s Cyrano de Bergerac. His co-stars included Bill Christ, Ryan Shively, Randy Moore, Tony Church, Christopher Leo, Gabriella Cavalerro, Louis Schaefer, January LaVoy, Tracy Shaffer, Erik Tieze, Jason Henning and Chad Henry. (Photo: Gareth Saxe as Scar in Disney’s ‘The Lion King.’ Photo by Joan Marcus.)

Saxe remembers performing in Boulder in 1998 with Colorado Shakes as a seminal summer. “To be able to work on that language in that space in Boulder in the summer is magic,” said Saxe, who was cast to understudy Richard II while also playing Costard in Love’s Labour’s Lost.

“The guy who was playing Richard was also playing Don Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost, which we opened the night before we opened Richard II,” he said. “I was onstage with this actor as he was doing a little jig, and I heard his knee go … snap!

“I realized at that moment I was not going to sleep for the next 48 hours because that meant that I would be going on as Richard the next night. It was the single most terrifying moment of my young adult life – and also the most thrilling. That’s like one of those nightmares you wake up from in chills. But then it happens and you don’t die and you think, ‘Well, maybe I can do this.’ ”

Saxe went on to perform in The Homecoming, Heartbreak House and The Lion King on Broadway. He credits in part two of his Colorado College professors for his success. “Tom Lindblade and Jim Malcolm were instrumental in the kind of program that CC has,” said Saxe of teachers who also helped launch the acclaimed Buntport Theater ensemble and Thaddeus Phillips, who has debuted several of his inventive, experimental works at theatres in Denver and Colorado Springs under his company name, Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental.

“It was an extraordinary experience, and I can’t thank them enough,” Saxe said of his time in Colorado Springs. 

The Lion King is playing in Denver through Nov. 29. Call 303-893-4100.

Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


More of Gareth Saxe’s performance credits:

Broadway: The Homecoming, Heartbreak House. Off-Broadway: Richard III, The Winter’s Tale (Public); Echoes of the War (Mint Theater). Regional: A Moon to Dance By (George Street Playhouse); Hamlet, Dangerous Liaisons (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ); Sexual Perversity in Chicago (American Conservatory Theater); iWitness (Mark Taper Forum). Film and TV: Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, “Law & Order,” “SVU.” MFA: NYU.


Disney’s The Lion King: Ticket information

  • Nov 4-29 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 28
  • Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the only authorized online ticket provider for Disney’s ‘The Lion King.’

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of The Lion King:
    For South Africans, Pride Lands are the land of opportunity 
    Circle of Life: The Lion King tour returns to Denver birthplace
    Technical director David Bencken on hanging 12 tons of equipment
    Original The Lion King orchestra member plays 15 different flutes
    Official show page

    Gareth Saxe poses in the lobby of the Buell Theatre last week in Denver. Photo by John Moore. Gareth Saxe poses in the lobby of the Buell Theatre last week in Denver. Photo by John Moore.

    Gareth Cyrano 600
    Gareth Saxe as the Spanish officer Valvert in the DCPA Theatre Company’s ‘Cyrano de Bergerac.’

    Gareth Saxe’s program bio from 2001 when he made his DCPA Theatre Company debut in ‘Cyrano de Bergerac,’ directed by Nagle Jackson and starring Bill Christ.

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