On Nov. 13 the Tony-winning Disney musical, The Lion King, will celebrate five sold-out years at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre.
The New York production, which will have played 2,119 performances as of Nov. 13, originally opened on Nov. 13, 1997. Directed by Julie Taymor — who became the first woman ever to receive a Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical — The Lion King has become an international hit with productions playing all around the globe.
Worldwide productions that are still going strong include mountings in Tokyo (opened Dec. 20, 1998), London (opened Oct. 19, 1999), Toronto (opened April 25, 2000), Los Angeles (opened Oct. 19, 2000), Fukuoka (opened April 17, 2001) and Hamburg (opened Dec. 2, 2001). There was also a production in Osaka, Japan, which opened April 18, 1999, and played 674 performances through Jan. 21, 2001. The U.S. national tour will soon be seen in Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Charlotte, Cleveland and St. Louis.
The Elton John-Tim Rice musical has won over 30 major awards. Those include six Tony Awards, including one for Best Musical; eight Drama Desk Awards; six Outer Critics Circle Awards; two Sir Laurence Oliviers; the Evening Standard Award for Best Theatrical Event; and three Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards.
Lion King fun facts:
-In order to keep the music faithful to its African origins, South African performers have been integral members of the company since its opening. To date, 15 native South Africans have been employed by The Lion King on Broadway.
-Worlwide, The Lion King employs more than 1,700 people.
-The Los Angeles production of Lion King is the longest-running production to ever play the Pantages Theatre.
-The tallest animals in Lion King are the 18-foot giraffes in "I Just Can't Wait to Be King." The tiniest animal is the trick mouse at the end of Scar's cane: 5 inches.
-It took 17,000 hours to build the puppets and masks for the original production of Lion King.
-There are more than 232 puppets in the show, including rod puppets, shadow puppets and full-sized puppets. The Lion King plays the New Amsterdam Theatre (W. 42nd Street); call (212) 307-4747 for tickets. Go to www.disneyonbroadway.com for more information.