THE LION KING North American Tour to Expand to New Cities with Re-Configured Production

By: Sep. 30, 2016
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Disney Theatrical Productions announced today that The Lion King North American tour will unveil a newly-configured production in October 2017, allowing the award-winning musical to entertain new audiences in cities and venues which previously couldn't accommodate the show.

Advanced technologies, new since the tour launched in 2002, will enable the production to be more nimble and adaptable while maintaining the spectacle, scale and emotional pull of Julie Taymor's original vision. The Tony-winning design team, led by Taymor, will re-create and refresh their original designs for this state-of-the-art physical production, which will be equal in size and scope to the current one and will continue to employ its cast on an Actors' Equity full production contract.

To date the North American tour has employed more than 500 multi-talented performers, musicians and crew members, and has played nearly 6,000 performances during 137 engagements in 75 cities to an audience of more than 14 million. Few, if any, tours in theatre history have achieved its reach or impact.

"I remember clearly when The Lion King opened on Broadway, the comment we most heard was, 'you'll never be able to recreate the spectacle on tour,'" said Thomas Schumacher, President & Producer Disney Theatrical Productions. "Yet, Julie Taymor and her team cracked it and found a way to deliver the Broadway experience on the road for the last 14 years. Now, that same group of artists has used their ingenuity to deliver the show to markets we never imagined we would be able to reach because of the show's complexity. Bringing the exhilaration of musical theatre to new audiences is our deepest passion."

The announcement was welcomed by presenters of Broadway series across the country whose audiences have placed The Lion King among their most-requested shows for nearly two decades.

"Our smaller communities love Broadway shows every bit as much as theatregoers in larger cities and no show represents premium Broadway to as many patrons as Disney's The Lion King. Now, thanks to Disney Theatrical Productions, our audiences can experience this blockbuster in their home theater," said Ed Payton, CEO Celebrity Attractions, a presenter of Broadway series. "We are thrilled to host this newly-configured tour in Little Rock, Arkansas and look forward to The Lion King playing in more of our markets in the future."

The tour will close in summer 2017, during which time the production's technical modifications will be implemented and perfected. The tour will reopen in October 2017 and will play premiere engagements in numerous cities, including El Paso, TX; Eugene, OR; and Sarasota, FL, as well as return engagements in markets previously played.

In its 19th year, The Lion King continues ascendant as one of the most popular stage musicals in the world. Since its Broadway premiere on November 13, 1997, 23 global productions have been seen by more than 85 million people. Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), The Lion King is only the second show in history to generate five productions worldwide running 10 or more years. Translated into eight different languages (Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and Portuguese), productions of The Lion King can currently be seen on Broadway; London's West End; Hamburg; Tokyo; Madrid; Mexico City; Shanghai and on tour across North America, for a total of eight productions running concurrently across the globe. Having played over 100 cities in 20 countries on every continent except Antarctica, The Lion King's worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history.

THE LION KING won six 1998 Tony Awards®: Best Musical, Best Scenic Design (Richard Hudson), Best Costume Design (Julie Taymor), Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Best Choreography (Garth Fagan) and Best Direction of a Musical. The Lion King has also earned more than 70 major arts awards including the 1998 NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy® for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Event of the Year and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design.

The show's director, costume designer and mask co-designer Julie Taymor continues to play an integral part in the show's ongoing success. The first woman to win a Tony Award for Direction of a Musical, Taymor has in recent years supervised new productions of the show around the world.

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 "Shadowland."

The book has been adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed The Lion King animated feature, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the film's screenplay. Other members of the creative team include: Michael Curry, who designed the masks and puppets with Taymor, Steve Canyon Kennedy (sound design), Michael Ward (hair and makeup design), John Stefaniuk (associate director), Marey Griffith (associate choreographer), Clement Ishmael (music supervisor), Doc Zorthian (production supervisor) and Mark Brandon (casting). Anne Quart serves as associate producer.

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Photo credit: Joan Credit

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