Celebrating ‘The Lion King’ On Broadway’s 25-Yr Legacy
On November 13, Disney Theatrical’s The Lion King joined the rarified ranks solely two different Broadway productions have beforehand achieved: Entertaining audiences for a full 25 years. That includes songs by Disney Legends Sir Elton John and Sir Tim Rice, the present opened in 1997 on the New Amsterdam Theatre and has since moved to the Minskoff Theatre—the place this extraordinary event was honored Sunday with a very star-studded twenty fifth anniversary efficiency.
Few exhibits will be handed down from one technology to the subsequent—and with as a lot which means—as Disney’s The Lion King, as illustrated within the new branded quick movie beneath. Created in partnership with ArtClass’ Jamaal Parham and Bashan Aquart (also called the Brooklyn-based directing duo “Jams x Bash”), the colourful, emotional quick options the present Lion King forged and was filmed on location in New York Metropolis.
Not solely has The Lion King been thrilling theatergoers for two-plus a long time in New York Metropolis, however it’s been concurrently bringing its story of coronary heart and residential to audiences in over 100 cities in 21 international locations, and on each continent besides Antarctica. Carried out over its lifetime in 9 totally different languages (English, Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin, and Portuguese), there are at the moment 9 productions of The Lion King across the globe: Broadway, London, Paris, Hamburg, Madrid, Tokyo, on tour throughout North America, and on tour within the UK & Eire, with a separate manufacturing touring internationally.
By no means earlier than has a present in its twenty fifth 12 months placed on so many productions around the globe concurrently and positioned within the High 5 grossing Broadway exhibits this lengthy (at almost 1,300 consecutive weeks and counting). Presently, 115,000 individuals benefit from the present courtesy of these 9 productions (on three continents) each week. All instructed, the present—produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (beneath the purview of Thomas Schumacher)—has now been seen by an astonishing 112 million individuals, and its worldwide gross exceeds that of any movie, Broadway present, or different leisure title in field workplace historical past.
In 1998, The Lion King received six Tony® Awards: Finest Musical, Finest Scenic Design (Richard Hudson), Finest Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Finest Choreography (Garth Fagan), and Finest Costume Design and Finest Path of a Musical for Disney Legend Julie Taymor. The primary lady to win a Tony for Finest Director of a Musical, Taymor stays actively concerned within the present—launching new productions and sustaining the flagship Broadway present. In the meantime, composer Lebo M (who wrote further musical materials for the manufacturing) and Tony-winning choreographer Fagan now each maintain Broadway data, because of The Lion King; with over 9,700 performances, they’re the longest working Black composer and choreographer in Broadway historical past.
Extremely, a number of different members of The Lion King’s present forged, orchestra, and inventive workers stay an integral a part of its “Circle of Life”—a testomony to the familial heat that permeates the manufacturing. South African performer Lindiwe Dlamini, who joined the present throughout its summer season 1997 pre-Broadway run, has been with the present’s triple-threat ensemble ever since. “Once we first began, I had no concept what the present was going to seem like,” she explains. “So, going by the audition course of, after which beginning rehearsals, we began to see the costumes, and I believed to myself, ‘How are we going to carry out in these? How can we stroll in a hyena costume?’ [It was inspiring] to see the entire thing unfold—studying all these actions; the singing, the dancing, [performing] with the puppets. The primary day of previews got here, and that’s once I thought, ‘Oh, now we have one thing wonderful right here.”
Dlamini and people Minneapolis forged members are in a significantly unique group: they received to look at as audiences encountered the present—director Taymor’s soon-to-be-Tony-winning imaginative and prescient—for the very first time. “It was an expertise that I want lots of people who carry out in The Lion King [now] may expertise,” she admits, “as a result of it was the primary time that folks noticed one thing this totally different in theater.”
Certainly one of Dlamini’s Broadway castmates, L. Steven Taylor (at the moment starring as noble patriarch Mufasa), has been with The Lion King for 17 years and sees a definitive motive for the present’s longevity: its characters. “They might appear larger than life,” he says, “however I’ve at all times mentioned that the factor that makes the present timeless is that the characters even have real-world circumstances which might be relatable to on a regular basis individuals. And that modifications, in response to the place you might be in your life. Take my character, Mufasa, as an example; what father or mother can’t determine with desirous to impart some data and knowledge onto their baby, after which struggling to put accountability on them with out dimming their gentle? Individuals undergo phases and levels as they develop and evolve. And it’s form of wild, as a result of once you have a look at the present by the lens of 25 years [of life], the theme of evolution and development—which is what our present is about—it’s represented proper there, within the two-plus a long time of the present.”
And the way forward for the present is as vivid as that solar in its perpetual “sapphire sky,” thanks partially to the heartfelt story at its very core. “On the crux of its longevity is the story,” says Kendra Moore—a longtime Lion King tour ensemble member who now works within the Broadway manufacturing’s Firm Administration workplace. “It’s a narrative all of us connect with. It’s how we inform that story. It’s the unimaginable the imaginative and prescient that Julie Taymor had, of taking the film to the stage. And it’s the individuals—not solely the performers, the proficient group of people that make up the present—but in addition the proficient individuals behind the present, from the entrance of the home to the again of the home, to the individuals in advertising and marketing and ticketing. It’s not only one one that makes it so particular; it’s the entire collective.”
Watch the video beneath for a have a look at this Sunday’s unimaginable anniversary celebrations:
The Lion King, now in its twenty fifth 12 months, is at the moment taking part in on the Minskoff Theatre in New York Metropolis—and in cities around the globe. For extra info, and to buy tickets, go to lionking.com.