Jason Raize
Jason Raize
It has just been reported that Jason Raize, who originated the role of the adult Simba in the Broadway production of The Lion King, died last week in Yass, Australia at age 28. Chris Boneau, the press agent for The Lion King, confirmed that Raize took his own life.

Raize most recently appeared in the York Theatre Company's "Musicals in Mufti" production of Carmen Jones. His other stage credits include tours of Jesus Christ Superstar (with Ted Neeley) and Miss Saigon. In addition to the original cast recording of The Lion King, he may be heard on The Paul Simon Album: Broadway Sings the Best of Paul Simon and Radio Disney Jams Vol. 2.

The actor provided the voice of Denahi for the 2003 Disney film Brother Bear and co-starred in the 2000 TV special Jessica Simpson and Jason Raize In Concert. In 1999, Raize was named United Nations Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador "for his commitment and dedication to furthering the cause of the environment through the use of his creative talents to inspire respect for our natural heritage and to promote the conservation and sustainable use of the earth's resources." He was the youngest person ever to receive that honor.

Raize is survived by his father, mother, sister, step-mother, step-father, four step-brothers, and two step-sisters. A memorial service will be held at 2pm on Sunday, February 15 at the Unitarian Universalist Society, 12 Ford Avenue in Oneonta, New York. All are welcome to attend and share a story, poem, reading, or song, and bring a copy of a photo or a written story for a memorial scrapbook. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to Orpheus Theater, P.O. Box 1014, Oneonta, 13820.