Lion King Opens for Business TonightDate: 19 October 1999
The multi award-winning Broadway musical of Disney's The Lion King is here at last. The show opens tonight, 19 October 1999, at the West End's Lyceum Theatre and, if reactions to the preview performances, which have been running since 24 September, are anything to go by, this show is going to be a blockbuster. Last month, weeks before opening, demand for tickets was so high that producers extended the booking period by four months. The show is now booking to 30 September 2000.
The Lion King, based on Disney's popular animated feature film, opened on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre in November 1997, boasting a reported budget of $15 million, making it the most expensive show ever seen on the Great White Way. The show proved a hit with reviewers and audiences winning more than 20 major awards including the Tony for best musical.
Acclaimed director and designer Julie Taymor, who has a background in experimental theatre as well as opera, has reunited the original award-winning Broadway creative team in London. Choreography is by Garth Fagan, costume designs by Julie Taymor with puppetry and masks by Taymor and Michael Curry. Richard Hudson is the set designer and hair and make-up are by Michael Ward. Lighting design is by Donald Holder and sound design by Tony Meola.
The Lion King features 15 musical numbers, including the five from the record-breaking film. Unlike the screen version, however, African sounds and rhythms are fused on stage with Western popular music to create the musical's distinctive sound. As on Broadway, the score also includes three new songs written by Elton John and Tim Rice with additional numbers by South African born Lebo M, Julie Taymor, Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer. The book is by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi.