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RIALTO CHATTER: Broadway's THE LION KING Undergoes Changes

BroadwayWorld.com has independently confirmed recent online rumors that changes have been made to the Broadway production of THE LION KING when the show recently welcomed new cast members in mid-June. The show now runs 8-10 minutes shorter and has incorporated small cuts that were made first for the show's Las Vegas production. Also no longer in the show is "Morning Report."

A production spokesperson declined comment or confirmation on any changes to the show, but BroadwayWorld.com's scooper did say that audiences are responding to the show just as wildly enthusiastically as they have for years, and those following the numbers know that the production continues to sell out.

 Produced by Thomas Schumacher of Disney Theatrical Productions, THE LION KING is currently playing at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre (200 West 45th Street).

THE LION KING began as a 1994 animated feature-length film developed and produced by the Walt Disney Company. The story, a coming of age parable set among animals indigenous to its setting, the African savanna, tells the tale of Simba, the lion cub who rises to be the King of the jungle. On stage, Director Julie Taymor's creative vision blends elements of African art and Broadway artisanship to depict anthropomorphic animal characters.

Now in its 13th year, THE LION KING continues to reign as one of the most popular shows on Broadway and around the world. It is the eighth longest-running musical in Broadway history and, according to figures just released by The Broadway League, placed second on the Top 10 lists for both the highest-grossing and best-attended shows of the 2009-10 season, an indicator of its unprecedented success. THE LION KING is one of only five musical productions in theatre history to play for ten years or more on both Broadway and the West End.

THE LION KING has been seen by more than 50 million people in 13 different countries and translated into five different languages (Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch). In addition to Broadway and a North American tour, THE LION KING can also currently be seen on stage in London, Hamburg, Paris, Tokyo and Las Vegas.

The global phenomenon is the winner of more than 70 major awards worldwide, including the 1998 Tony Award® and NY Drama Critics Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy® for Best Musical Show Album, and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design.

Julie Taymor was the first woman in theatrical history to win the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical. She is also the winner of the 1998 Tony Award for Best Costume Design. Previous credits include The Green Bird, The Flying Dutchman, Fool's Fire, Titus Andronicus and the Tony Award-nominated Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass at Lincoln Center.

Taymor, along with designer Michael Curry, has created hundreds of masks and puppets for THE LION KING. Scenic design is by Richard Hudson; costume design is by Julie Taymor; lighting design is by Donald Holder. Choreography is by Garth Fagan. The book has been adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated feature and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the film's screenplay.

The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rice's music from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice; additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer; and music from "Rhythm of the Pride Lands," an album inspired by the original music in the film, written by Lebo M, Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer. The resulting sound of THE LION KING is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, ranging from the Academy® Award-winning song "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" to the haunting ballad "Shadowlands."

The pre-Broadway engagement of THE LION KING had its world premiere on July 13, 1997 in Minneapolis at the historic Orpheum Theatre. The pre-Broadway engagement ran for eight weeks, closing on August 31, 1997. THE LION KING officially opened on Broadway on November 13, 1997 at the New Amsterdam Theatre and later moved to its current home at the Minskoff Theatre on June 13, 2006.

THE LION KING ticket prices range from $69.50-$128.50, and are available at www.LionKing.com, the Minskoff Theatre Box Office (200 West 45th Street, NYC), Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling Ticketmaster's Disney on Broadway hotline at 866-870-2717. Performance and holiday schedule varies; check online for current schedule (running time is approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes.)

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